Picture Perfect

Cameras, costumes and toddlers are all in a day's work for Lil' Angels franchisees.

By Jonathan Riggs • Oct 10, 2011 Originally published Sep 9, 2004

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For a young couple looking to open a franchise together, Lil' Angels Photography was practically heaven-sent. Three years ago, Tom Castle, 37, and Julie Castle, 33, were leafing through the Yellow Pages, looking for inspiration. When they came across the Photography section, they remembered meeting a Lil' Angels franchise owner on a cruise. Suddenly, the couple knew their search for a franchise was over.

Lil' Angels provides professional-quality photography to day-care centers, preschools and organizations for children. The company adds creative flair with its "Fashion for Kids Program," where children are photographed dressed up as anything from a race-car driver to a cowgirl.

"We felt this was something we could really enjoy," Julie says. "The initial investment was within reach, and the time to get started was minimal."

Neither Tom nor Julie had any professional photography experience, so Tom took a part-time job at a local photo lab. The couple has maintained their success by assessing and capitalizing on each other's strengths: Tom has a knack for charming children, while Julie makes the most of her business savvy. Although blending their differing styles wasn't easy, eventually the business blossomed. So did their family-they now have a daughter and a son.

Thanks to the flexibility of their franchise, these young parents only work about 10 months per year-they photograph about 6,500 kids during that period-and they spend the rest of the year enjoying family time. They charge between $25 and $100 per child. Professionally, their reputation has opened many doors. Most of their new business comes from customer referrals. "That's when you know you're doing something right," Julie says.

What they're doing isn't easy. Convincing one 2-year-old not to cry, or to pose naturally for the camera is difficult-and they sometimes photograph 60 2-year-olds in a row. "The key is to make sure the kids have fun," Tom says. "Taking pictures is a lot of pressure on them."

He and Julie never force an unwilling or scared child to get his or her picture taken, and they strive for a natural look in their photographs. Their care and professionalism are paying off-2004 sales are projected to reach between $350,000 and $450,000, and satisfied customers abound. "We've had parents who literally scream with excitement and surprise [when they see the photos]," Julie says. "Some are so overwhelmed, they cry. We get phone calls days or even weeks later, thanking us for taking such beautiful pictures."

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This Co-Founder Was Kicked Out of Retailers for Pitching a 'Taboo' Beauty Product. Now, Her Multi-Million-Dollar Company Sells It for More Than $20 an Ounce.
Have You Ever Obsessed Over 'What If'? According to Scientists, You Don't Actually Know What Would Have Fixed Everything.
Most People Don't Know These 2 Things Are Resume Red Flags. A Career Expert Reveals How to Work Around Them.
Business News

Massive Fire At Top Egg Farm Leaves Estimated 100,000 Hens Dead. What Does This Mean For Egg Prices?

Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut went up in flames on Saturday in an incident that is still under investigation.

Business News

These Two Cars Are Stolen So Often Insurance Won't Cover Them

Progressive and State Farm have dropped some older Hyundai and Kia models after learning that a design flaw makes them easy to start without a key.

Business News

Out With the Kibble and In With the Steak. The World's Richest Dog Has a Net Worth of $400 Million – And a New Netflix Docuseries Too

'Gunther's Millions' is set to unpack the pooch's mysterious fortune and what those around him have done with his inheritance.

Business News

'This Culture Of Secrecy Is Not Okay': Former Apple Employee Celebrates NLRB Decision That It Violated Worker Rights

Ashley Gjøvik complained Tim Cook violated worker rights by telling employees not to speak to the media.

Business Solutions

5 Procurement Trends To Keep on Your Radar for 2023

Procurement professionals must adapt to inflation and a shortage of skilled labor in the face of an economic recession. Investing in a workforce paired with retraining and development strategies will put your company on top amid economic uncertainty.