How online forms help a baby photographer manage her workflow

Melissa Hartigan has had a camera in hand for as long as she can remember, and she knows how a memory, captured in a single photo, can spark joy.

“We had closets full of photo albums when I was growing up, so pictures were always important to my family,” she said.

As she grew up, Hartigan’s passion evolved into a skill as she learned new photography techniques and took photography classes in high school.

The mother of five now operates her business, Melissa Hartigan Photography, out of a storefront in Coventry, Connecticut, about 20 miles from the state’s capital, Hartford.

“In the age of cell phones, people just want to take pictures but never print them,” Hartigan said during a brief respite from editing photos in her studio.

“When I decided to go full steam with this, it was important for me, as a photographer, to capture memories for people to look back on years and years from now like I did as a child,” she said.

baby photography
Photo courtesy Melissa Hartigan Photography

When her children were little, Hartigan got requests from people to take pictures of their children and families. But the decision to take the leap and start her eponymous business eventually came in 2012, when Hartigan’s twins — her third and fourth children — turned a year old.

Even though it has been nearly seven years since she launched her own photography business, Hartigan still enjoys freezing memories and moments in time for clients in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

She finds particular joy in capturing fleeting moments, including mothers during various stages of pregnancy, newborns during their first two days, first birthday celebrations, or an infant’s first moments outdoors.

Since Hartigan uses JotForm for her photo session agreements and model release forms, she considers the Form Builder to be a valuable resource alongside her other software tools, such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photo Mechanic.

baby photography
Photo courtesy Melissa Hartigan Photography

Cut paper out of your workflow

Before she made the switch to online forms, Hartigan relied on paper forms to collect the vital information and payments that she needed from clients.

After sending a PDF copy of her form, Hartigan’s clients would have to print the document, sign it, and send it back with a check.

“That would take a week or two,” Hartigan recalled.

“A lot of times clients said, ‘I don’t have a printer. Could you please mail it to me?’ So that created extra steps for me.”

While searching for a better solution, Hartigan reached out to fellow photographers who belonged to the same Facebook groups and the Professional Photographers of America. Many told Hartigan to give JotForm a try.

“That kind of sealed the deal for me and pushed me along, since other photographers were using it, liked it, and didn’t have negative things to say,” Hartigan said.

newborn photography
Photo courtesy Melissa Hartigan Photography

JotForm allows you to build customizable online forms from scratch in just a few quick steps without typing a single line of code. Just select some ready-made fields, such as name, address, phone number, and email address, from a menu of options and drag them onto the form you want to create.

When you want to gather more detailed information, you can create multiple-choice, single-answer, or dropdown questions. You can even allow form respondents to share files or provide more precise feedback with a rating scale.

JotForm’s Form Builder also allows you to give your form a professional touch by adding a business logo and changing the background color, font, font color, and line spacing. If you have some CSS coding skills, you can use them to control almost every aspect of your form.

If you need a little inspiration or a place to get started, check out the dozens of photography form templates created by JotForm designers and real users.

While testing other options, Hartigan found that some online form solutions required her to use generic and/or rigid templates.

“It’s your business, so you want it to be your form — you don’t want it to be just some template,” Hartigan said.

baby photography
Photo courtesy Melissa Hartigan Photography

Collect legally binding signatures

Before a photo session even begins, Hartigan shares important information with all of her clients, such as pricing details, copyright restrictions, and how photos can be used.

For instance, clients aren’t allowed to use Hartigan’s images for commercial purposes, profit, and photography competitions or displays. Since Hartigan owns the copyright to her photos, she can impose restrictions on how clients use and share her photos.

“A lot of times, clients think that they own the image since they’re getting a digital file, so clearing up that part is important,” Hartigan said.

This makes it imperative for Hartigan’s clients to sign her photo session agreement and model release form before any photos are taken.
The e-signature widget in JotForm’s Form Builder allows people to sign your form, regardless of whether they fill it out on a mobile device, laptop, or desktop. You can also use the initials widget to ensure that people have read an individual page or paragraph.

baby photography session
Photo courtesy Melissa Hartigan Photography

Send follow-up emails automatically

After securing a date and time for an individual photo session, Hartigan will send clients an email that contains a link to her agreement form in JotForm.

Once clients fill out and submit Hartigan’s form, they receive automated thank-you emails based on the type of photo session that’s been arranged.

You can set up a similar workflow using JotForm’s autoresponder feature.

This handy feature allows you to create a customized email that will be sent automatically once people fill out your form and submit it. For a more professional or personalized touch, you can include individual form fields, such as names, phone numbers, or email addresses, in the email that’s sent to form respondents.

You can even set up your autoresponder to send respondents a PDF copy of their submitted information or a specific file that you want to share. You can also schedule the delivery of your autoresponder.

newborn photography session
Photo courtesy Melissa Hartigan Photography 

Conclusion

JotForm’s Form Builder saves Hartigan time and money, and it can do the same for you, whether you need to collect important details from clients or signatures for your disclaimers and disclosures.

Don’t waste time with paper forms or settle for some generic template that’s devoid of a personal touch. Join legions of other photographers, and give JotForm a try today.

Darin is a content writer at JotForm. He is passionate about disrupting perceptions, solving problems, and helping people be more productive with the easiest online form builder. Outside of the office, he is a rush-hour straphanger, adventure seeker, coffee drinker, and frequent traveler. You can contact Darin through his contact form.

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