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Meet Julie Floyd of Classic Kids Photography in Lincoln Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Floyd.

Julie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started Classic Kids in San Francisco while living there in the late 1990’s. I was unhappy tax lawyer wanting to change careers and decided to leave the legal world and start my own children’s photography studio. I had 2 kids at the time, both boys. I made the leap as a one woman show and my studio took off. I specialized in black and white film photography and hand printed and tinted photographs. I got extremely busy fast and had a flourishing studio, all by word of mouth. My husband, who works for Hyatt Hotels, got transferred from San Francisco to Chicago and we had to relocate. Rather than close my business there, I kept it going by hiring my first employees and traveling to the Bay area about once a month to shoot non-stop for days. By then, I was mom to 3 boys who put up with my crazy work travel. It took about 3 months before I could no longer resist the temptation to open a Winnetka studio in addition to my San Francisco studio. Once I mastered that, I opened the studio on Armitage, another in Silicon Valley, two in Manhattan, one in Greenwich, two in Southern California, and one in Hinsdale! I opened a studio in Highland Park last summer. There are 11 studios in all and a lab in Evanston that does all of our image processing and printing. At 43, I managed to give birth to one more boy, who is now 10, and twos years ago took in a 14 year old Nepalese boy whose family was greatly affected by the earthquakes in Kathmandu. I still shoot quite a bit, but I also mentor and direct the 48 employees who make their living from Classic Kids. Over many years, I have trained the many talented artists who serve as head photographers, including Monica Wandry, who is the head photographer of the Armitage studio.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Ha! Oh my goodness. Smooth road? At times. I have been in business for over 20 years and have had plenty of struggles all along the way. Some of the biggest were:
-Making a career change from successful international tax attorney to, gulp, child photographer. Like my husband said, not so lovingly at first “who does that??!!” Friends and family thought I was nuts.
-Having and raising children like crazy while working like crazy to build a successful business. So many sacrifices. I am lucky to still be married!
-Being responsible for the careers and livelihoods of 48 people!
-Getting 48 very differently abled people to play like a symphony. There have been personnel disruptions along the way that are always very tricky to deal with, but I have been lucky in having many long term people at my side. The longest, nearly 20 years!
-Major changes in the photography industry with the advent of digital technology. We began with film and had to convert. The industry has changed dramatically, and us along with it!
-The GREAT RECESSION. We are still recovering. That was a complete shock and I still have nightmares about it. Company revenues fell dramatically, but payroll and costs did not. Ouch!
-I literally could go on and on!

Classic Kids photography – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Classic Kids is a boutique family and kids photography studio company, with our roots in black and white film. We have branched out into color now, but at our heart you will always find black and white. We don’t consider our work done until it has been printed for display. Digital images have their place, but we believe in the tangible.
Our work is not inexpensive, but that is because it represents the best of family photography. Our goal is create art for our client’s homes and heirlooms for future generations.

I am most proud of our people. They are a rare breed. They are talented artists who love and appreciate the beauty of children. We are a family.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
My own personal success is defined by the love in my family and the happiness of my children. I am also extremely fortunate to have woken up most every day of my career wondering how in the world I got so lucky to have Classic Kids! I have been richly rewarded for my blood, sweat and tears (literally….and you can add some other substances like baby spit up) by having the respect and admiration of the people who work at Classic Kids and the many families I have served over the years. CK is my baby and it provides me every day with endless creative opportunities. I am, first and foremost, a lover of beautiful things, and CK allows me to create beautiful things every single day.

I am successful if my children are happy, my husband is happy, my employees are happy and I am able to make enough to keep the lights on and continue to pay their salaries.

Pricing:

  • Classic Kids is not the least expensive, nor the most expensive family photographer in town. Families can expect to spend at least $1,000.
  • All prints are priced a la carte, so families can buy what they want to fit within any budget, with fine art prints starting at about $100
  • Sitting fees, which do not include any product, are around $300

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