I'm going to write a bit and add photos later, but I just felt the inspiration to write, so I'm going to blog.
I just read a facebook post from my college roommate, who later would become my co-worker. Of course this goes back to the years when I was a college student and then young apprentice up in Boston. New England will always hold a piece of my heart for many reasons, one of them is my old roommate and another is the job we had.
We went to school to become funeral directors. Yes, some of you already know this about me, to some it may be a surprise. During our college years, both my roommate, Lauren and I were biology majors even before we got to funeral school, so we had a science background and many of our fellow students struggled with chemistry and biology classes. We always felt an obligation to help them, in fact we worked as tutors for the entire campus, not just for our major. When I say the word 'obligation' I mean it as a sense of pride. I was proud and honored to be able to help my fellow classmates with their struggles. I wanted them to succeed and was there to serve, teach and help them through their struggles. We helped a lot of students both inside and outside of tutoring jobs - other students knew we were more than happy to help them study.
One grateful student asked if we wanted jobs after graduation. Lauren took him up on it, I went back to Jersey and after thinking about it for a bit, I reached out to them and after my interview, he basically said, you had the job before you came in the door, just let us know when you want to start.
They knew I was a hard worker, intelligent, energetic had a positive attitude and wanted to help those around me. At this job, I worked days and nights, was on call many nights, worked through snow storms, the hottest days when I could feel beads of sweat dripping down my back under a black suit waiting for families on the sidewalk across from Fenway Park in Kenmore Square where one of our funeral home facilities were located; watching all of these cars trying to find parking for the Red Sox game, I was working. (Just for the record I'm a big Yankees fan, although I just love baseball and Fenway Park was always a fun time, although it's no Yankees Stadium!)
Getting back to the job, we were taught that customer service is KEY! Our boss was a great man, and wanted to make sure that all of his families were more than taken care of, sending them cars to be picked up at their home, the cars were always sent to the car wash at the end of every day, ready for the next family early the next morning. In fact, god forbid you locked the keys in the car, we were instructed to smash the drivers window if needed so the family isn't waiting or in any type of distress during their time of grief. The counted on us for everything during the wake and funeral and we delivered.
If a piece of furniture was scratched or ripped, it was fixed or replaced immediately. The quality service and goods offered to our clients were the best...the highest quality...it was nothing but the best for our families that we served. He wanted these grieving families to trust and expect that we had everything taken care of. If you're in the service industry, you know it can be stressful and adding being a funeral director on top of it, well, you only get one chance to have a funeral and have every detail right. We took our jobs very seriously for these grieving families. Our boss and managers had every detail covered and covered over again.
This was my first career job. The jobs I had before that were waitress and bartending jobs, which are also service jobs. I truly believe people should have to serve as a waiter for atleast 6 months of their life, as its an extremely humbling experience and will show you how to treat people, how to be more human, more caring, you'll understand the obligation, the pride and the responsibility we have to all take care of each other.
This leads into my current career as a newborn photographer. I want everything to be ready when that new mom brings her brand new baby to me. I want her and dad to worry about nothing! All of the details are planned out before baby arrives, many times they even visit the studio to see the amenities in the lounge area that I offer for them while they're here. If parents allow, and they always do, I and my assistant change the baby, we will feed the baby if baby isn't nursing, we will provide a comfortable space for mom to nurse, I will provide a warm comfortable calm environment for parents to rest in during the session. I will have hair and makeup take care of Mom if she'd like before the family portion of the session, I will have food drinks, as I know from nursing two babies myself, you get really thirsty when breastfeeding your baby. I will help you out of the car, ask some questions that help me understand the baby a little better.
After the session, when mom and dad return to see their photos, I usually get to hold baby again for a bit while they sift through their printed images and make decisions on what to purchase. I'm right there with them, answering all of their questions, we've already discussed some ideas they may be looking for so they're not overwhelmed and exhausted making decisions.
I will order the prints for them, their wall art, their gifts for grandparents, and anything else they decide on. The great thing is, the digitals they receive will allow them to create their own projects when they ever get the time that is scarce as a parent; however, The great customer service experience I offer comforts my clients, knowing that they won't be spending hours on the internet looking for the best canvas or print company and hoping for the best. My clients are confident that I've done all of that work for them already and greatly appreciate my service. My raw file digital images can be handled by professional printing companies that work exclusively with photographers to ensure the right colors and clarity for your portraits whether they be small or wall sized art pieces for your living room, nursery and grandparents.
I offer props and wardrobe for my clients that are from high quality vendors that have been referred to me by my mentors or other professionals. Safety is very important to me, so it goes without saying that my assistant and I wear masks the entire time we are hosting a family at the studio. My assistant is my second set of hands, which is a great help not only with newborns, but in making sure mom and dad are taken care of and if they come with a sibling or pet, my assistant checks in with them, too. I also check in with nurses several times through out the year to ask of any news on the newborn front in regards to safety regulations, make sure I have the latest information.
As I mentioned, I work with mentors, right now all classes are virtual, however, I cannot wait to go to in person classes with my mentors and coaches again someday. I'm in constant contact with them currently, we're always discussing everything that surrounds a newborn photography business, such as new products for clients, a new service idea, the latest colors, backdrops, props and fashions for babies and moms. This is all an important part of offering the best and highest quality service for my clientele, that I call my Millie Dee Family.
I've always been in some type of service industry related job; what I do now is no different, only this time the business is mine. I own it, my name is on it and I think back to the days of my boss and his high and strict standards for our families at the funeral home and still hold myself to have these same standards for my own business. Serving the people in my world is an innate part of who I am. There is still a sense of caring, personal service, obligation and responsibility and I take a lot of pride in saying that I serve every client this way.
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