A brand by any other name…

Top of the survey when asked ‘What do you want to know about when it comes to your business images?’,  came ‘Clarity of Message’ and ‘Branding’. And as we aim to please today’s blog is a straight forward look at some ideas on those very topics.

A quick disclaimer I’m currently working with the very talented Andy Johnston to drill down my business message and getting a really clear and consistent brand, so don’t take me as the greatest example at the moment. You can judge me at the end of the summer!

This is probably the first tip. Get outside help. It doesn’t have to be a professional (though a trained eye does help). A colleague, team member, mentor, prospective customers, ideal clients are all good to bounce ideas off. I have been known to test things at networking events too.

Then listen to what comes back. We all get bogged down in great ideas, being all things to all people, what we think people want to see. This can lead to our message becoming muddled and our brand getting a bit lost. Another set of constructively critical eyes are incredibly valuable for keeping our brand and message clear.

Next tip colour is great for branding. Here’s a screen grab of an image search for Cancer Research. I drove past a billboard this morning and it struck me how well they use colour. You can see that the colours from the logo in all their visuals, be it diagrams, events, people, research. Small business can do this through clothing, pop-up banners, pens, etc. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A bit of attention to detail is all that’s needed. For example if you are giving a presentation where you are going to be photographed, wear something that features your colours, match your whiteboard markers or PPT to your company colour scheme.

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You can also look at/Google the psychology of colour and what is standard in your area of business, e.g. business training is a dearth of blue/grey stock photography. Clothing, image treatments, lettering all using the same palette. If you come to any of my training sessions through the year I’m may ask you to wear something bright, as this isn’t anything like I want training to look or be. Dull!

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Unfortunately there is no simple answer. It can be a trade off between people making the connection with people through the use of standard industry colours and being lost amongst all your competitors doing the same thing. If you do an image search of ‘Edinburgh Law Firm Logos’ vs ‘Edinburgh Asset Management Logos’ you can see their different approaches.

From colour to people and clarity. If you have a specific target market use them in your images. This ties into last week’s blog on audience. Use people who connect with your target market and don’t use people who will muddy the message. When I think about my audience it’s not about a specific age, gender or industry. It’s about people looking open, engaged, professional, confident and happy. When I share any image promoting my profile pictures I make sure the image says all those things to me.

A similar argument can be made for location. If your audience is very local think about how you can feature that in your images. If you audience isn’t in California, stock images that feature roller-blading under palm trees can make you look inauthentic. The reverse can be true if you sell internationally i.e. looking to small scale, but not always. Think about the strength of the Scottish/UK brand in China.

Last tip for now…there are a million things that contribute to clarity of message and branding so I have to draw the line somewhere. I’m sure it will regularly appear in other blogs in the future and if you need specific help with your business come along to a training session or join the Digital Content Masterclass Facebook group. Where you have the chance to get that outside help I mentioned ūüėČ

So as I was saying last tip…sticking your logo on stuff! One of the easiest ways you can get your branding out there is get your logo in a PNG file and drop it on to all your images. If you’re not sure how to do it for your specific device, app, software ask the internet…Youtube will have the answer!

To recap a brief introduction to clarity of message and branding think; outside feedback, colour, people, location, watermark (logo). Things not covered yet; filters, styles of photography, repetition of composition…and on and on and on. Still lots to cover in the future!

Always love to hear your feedback and questions so ask away!

C x


Targeting your market


Unless your goal is shouting about your business into the void, which I admit is what it feels like at times. You need to think about your audience. What do they want to see? What do you want to tell them? What do you want them to do? What’s stopping them buying from you? When you have an idea of the answers to these questions then you can look at the next step. The pictures!

How do you use images to target your market? Lets have a look at some really simple examples for each of the questions posed above.

What do they want to see?

Take areas of the female market. There is evidence that a large part of this market responds best to images that contain people that they relate to. Meaning people who are of a similar age, earning level and life stage, etc., so high earning, single mums in their late 30s respond best to similar mums. Pictures of married mums in their 20s isn’t going to work as well.

What do you want to tell them?

Your message could be something as simple as you have a higher quality product than your competitor. For example the difference between a traditional butcher versus buying meat from a supermarket. By removing any plastic packaging, placing the meat on a stone/slate block, adding a sprig of herb you can effectively convey that message in a single image.

What do you want them to do?

You want your audience to visit your cafe. Take a picture of a cake put some text with a code next to it and the message, whoever orders a coffee between 10-11am on Saturday with the code gets a free cake. There are few things more engaging than free cake…maybe a puppy eating a cake…but that’s a bit gratuitous ūüėČ

What’s stopping them buying from you?

Mental health related services can struggle with prospective clients being fearful of the entire situation. By using images to tell the step by step process of a visit, from what the front door, reception and room look like, to friendly engaging pictures introducing them to everyone they will meet. Images can reassure prospective clients and get them to book a session.

As you can see with a little thought you can use images to talk to your audience in a much more effective way.

If you have any questions ask away!

C x

End of the ¬£25 Profile Picture

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone but I haven’t raised my rates in about 5 years. I restructured how I charged just to make it easier for clients, but I never actually put them up. Shocking I know!

Drum roll please…you have one week to get in touch to get 2017/18 rates. Most of the general photography pricing isn’t going up by much, but there are going to be options to add tailoring of images for accessibility and SEO amongst other things.

Don’t panic! You don’t need to get the photography done immediately, as long as we have started the consultation process this week (5pm Friday 6th April 2018) you get the 2017/18 rates. Lets be honest as I write this it is currently snowing…I have no problem waiting for warmer weather ūüėČ

On it’s way out is the ¬£25 profile pictures, so you have one week left to book for the 16th of April 2018. If you need an updated headshot or know someone who does send them this link.

If you’re thinking about raising your rates too here’s a great article by Denise at Sandstone Castles on why and how you can go about it – When was the last time you raised your rates?

Give me a call on 0776309221 or email claire@clairewatson.co.uk if you’d like to chat about projects you have coming up. Otherwise book your ¬£25 profile picture here NOW!

C x

5 questions to ask yourself about your social media images

“89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers¬†report¬†they are using content marketing¬†to increase leads and drive their brand forward” – Gary Henderson, Forbes

I’m not going to touch on the serious content of the article, you can read the full thing here, but it did get me thinking.

Always a dangerous thing!

Looking at it from an imagery perspective, what’s your content saying about your business? We looked at this last week at No Ties Networking¬†when I was giving a talk on visual communication. Instead of just telling people stuff I took two of the businesses as case studies. Then used the knowledge and experience of the group (there are some excellent marketers and brand specialists) to develop some ideas to help those businesses with their visual content.

We can all refocus our social media content by asking ourselves the same 5 simple questions we discussed at No Ties (the questions are simple…the answers might be a bit harder ;):

  1. Who or what is your business? …ask yourself this 3 times and try and expand on the answer each time. The clearer you have this the easier it is to target your message.
  2. What do you want to say? …I suppose this is sort of looking at your USP, but maybe more importantly how you want people to see your business.
  3. Who is your target market? …pick someone as specific as possible. Generally only multinationals have the resources and budgets to target everyone. And they regularly get it wrong…see Pepsi.
  4. What do they want to see? …what do you think will engage your market? Get them over their indifference. What do they like looking at? How can you match that to what you want to say?
  5. What stops them buying from you? …people are naturally suspicious about services. You can use images to help people get over their concerns about buying from you by identifying these problems and then tackling them one by one.

There are no answers in this post, only questions. I need to do this for myself too. I’m often guilty of the same thing as everyone else with a small business and limited time. I grab random images with ‘that will do’ attitude…I would never do this to a client, so I’m not sure why I think it’s okay for me.

If you’d like to learn more…possibly with answers this time…I will be putting some training sessions together for the coming months. One of which will be a full-day and run in conjunction with Katie Goudie from Words that Work and Brendan Reilly from Dangerous Studios. We will take you through the whole process from planning to practical skills for both photography and video, so you can walk away with the skills and knowledge to get on with your content marketing.

Leave your email address below or signup and we will let you know what we have planned.

Any other questions or requests for info just give me a shout.

Claire x

Could a retainer save you money?

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New Year revisiting a new idea. Last year I introduced the idea of a retainer to my business photography client options. It was new to me and I wasn’t entirely sure how it would workout for either me or the client. The only ‘retainer’ type structures I could find online were either similar to a shoot deposit or were guaranteeing availability, whether work was carried out¬†or not. The latter usually being fairly expensive for the client.

I wanted to do something that both saved clients money and made it easier for them to include photography in their annual budget and I hoped gain a slightly higher overall spend and a more steady income throughout the year. I was pretty sure it would be very cost effective for the client and that the regular payments would be good for my cashflow, but I was a bit fuzzy on the details.

My usual approach would be not to take an idea forward until I had every detail perfected with the consequence being never taking any action. This time I decided to suck it and see!

A big thank you goes out to West Lothian Chamber of Commerce for being the first to take me up on the offer…the guinea pig so to speak. We sat down and came up with a budget, event list and a few other details to build flexibility and reliability in to the agreement. Now with 3/4 of the year through¬†I’ve done a quick audit. 10 events have been covered¬†from the launch of the Developing Young Workforce programme, annual awards to the monthly breakfasts. When the normal fee is compared to¬†and the amount paid through the¬†retainer¬†the Chamber has so far saved 60% and been able to build a great stock of images of all their events for PR and future promotions.

I’d love to hear about any successes and failures you have had with similar or new pricing structures. Or for that fact any time you’ve introduced new concepts to your clients that they might not be familiar with. How did you go about it? What did you find that did or didn’t work?

And if you’d like to talk through how a retainer might work for your business give me a call and we can grab a coffee and a chat.

Contact me on 0776 309 2221 or email claire@clairewatson.co.uk

Competition Winners!


  • Profile picture day session (value ¬£25) Nic Macaulay-Smith
  • Event photography (value ¬£130) Jennifer Skedd, Artisan Stitch
  • Photography Training for Business Marketing (value ¬£25) Jonathan Downie
  • Property Photography (value ¬£50) Tara Macgregor, Ticketyboo Marketing
  • Profile picture day session (value ¬£25) David Robertson, EICC
  • 1hr Profile Pictures session (value ¬£85) Cat Trebilco, Reach The Peak
  • 1hr Photography for Business (value ¬£110) Claire Brotherton, A Bright Clear Web
  • Photography Training for Business Marketing (value ¬£25) Gail Scott, Welgo
  • 1hr Business Image Review (value ¬£85) Denise Strohsahl, Sandstone Castles¬†
  • Profile picture day session (value ¬£25) Julia Lister, Cairngorms Webhelper
  • Photography Training for Business Marketing In House team session (value ¬£150) Carrie Sanderson
  • 2hr Photography for Business (value ¬£180) Catherine Lepreux Interiors¬†

I’ll contact all the winners individually with the details of their prizes.¬†Congratulations!

If you’d like to see what I got up to in 2016 and are looking to procrastinate. I put together a wee gallery of 366 images for 366 days. A few of you might be featured ūüėČ

Presents for Everybody!

All I want for Christmas is for you all to have better photography for you and you businesses. Well that and world peace!

I was thinking what I could do to help the former and I decided presents were the way to go…as part of a clever (who am I kidding) marketing campaign. The title of this campaign…12 Working Days to Christmas…see what I did there. I figured advent is too long…25 days…nae chance! Then the 12 days of Christmas start on the 25th and who wants to be bothered with business over the holidays, so I’m combining them. See my genius ūüėõ

Where are our presents I hear you cry!

christmas-2012-1I’m not going to lie you are going to have to do a bit of work and not everybody is going to get one. What I am going to do is put a daily post on at 9am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram and anyone who comments on those posts before 9pm on the same day goes in the draw to win that day’s prize. If you are the only person to comment you automatically win the prize. Woohoo!

What are the prizes? Well instead of making you check in everyday I’m going to tell you, so you can make a note in your diary for the prizes¬†that you want. The prize schedule is as follows:

  • Day 1. Thursday 8th December:¬†Profile picture day session (value ¬£25) WINNER Nic Macaulay-Smith
  • Day 2. Friday 9th December: Event photography (value ¬£130)
  • Day 3. Monday 12th December: Photography Training for Business Marketing (value ¬£25)
  • Day 4. Tuesday 13th December: Property Photography (value ¬£50)
  • Day 5. Wednesday 14th December: Profile picture day session (value ¬£25)
  • Day 6. Thursday 15th December: 1hr Profile Pictures session (value ¬£85)
  • Day 7. Friday 16th December: 1hr Photography for Business (value ¬£110)
  • Day 8. Monday 19th December: Photography Training for Business Marketing (value ¬£25)
  • Day 9. Tuesday 20th December: 1hr Business Image Review (value ¬£85)
  • Day 10. Wednesday 21st December: Profile picture day session (value ¬£25)
  • Day 11. Thursday 22nd¬†December: Photography Training for Business Marketing In House team session (value ¬£150)
  • Day 12. Friday 23rd December: 2hr Photography for Business (value ¬£180)

More details will be given for the prizes each day. T&C will apply e.g. international travel not included!

I’m leaving the challenge of World Peace to the New Year, so if anyone has any ideas let me know. It’s going to have to be a collaborative effort!

Communicating what to whom?

What do you want to say? Who do you want to say it to?

Are the two most important questions you should ask yourself when thinking about the pictures you are taking for your business. Let us stick to social media for this post for brevity’s sake.

What do you want to say? Images are all about communicating your message so what is that message? Who are you as an individual, small business, company? What are the things and values that are important to you? What makes you stand out from your competitors? What do you want to achieve? These questions are our starting point in improving our communication with our target market.

Who do you want to talk to? Is the second part of that successful communication. Are the people you want to talk to present on the social media platform you are using? What do they want to see? What questions do they want answered about you? What is going to make them engage of disengage with you?

You should look at using pictures as a way to improve how you communicate with your current and prospective clients. Effective communication is never just one directional (no I don‚Äôt mean the boy band). If you’ve not sure how you can start doing this have a look at your competitors. Who’s doing it well?¬†Ask your market what they like. Or come along to my next training, get some tips and try out some different options.

I’m fairly new to Instagram myself, so I’m out looking for guidance and ideas. This is one of the blogs I thought was useful. ‘21 Mistakes You Can‚Äôt Afford to Make in Instagram Marketing‘ by Rachel Daley.

To conclude, pictures can be used to both attract and put clients off. So make sure it is intentional not as a by-product of not thinking thinks through properly. This picture might alienate large sections of the market but speak directly to a specific group. I’ll let you guess the market.

Have a great weekend.

Claire x

UK police visit Balearic islands

Squatting in corners…and other tricks of property photography

This morning I was taking some property photography for the lovely people at At Home in Edinburgh, which inspired me for today’s tips. I was thinking how odd I must look semi squatting in the corners of rooms, sweating through my clothes…it’s pretty hard work maintaining a wall squat¬†in what is usually a warm room. It inspired me to make others look equally odd.

We all know high end property photography can be an expensive and time consuming business. This is not really cost effective for someone needing nice pictures for example a short term summer rental, so how do you get better pictures?

Light! There is nothing appealing about a dungeon. Here professional cameras with powerful flashes definitely have the upper hand, but there are are a few things you can do to make your rooms brighter without using flash. Yes you heard me right, turn off your flash. Front facing in built¬†flash is horrible. Don’t use it! Instead take pictures at the time of day the room is at it’s brightest. Turn on all possible lights to help your camera (tablet/camera phone) and then trust the software. This generation of camera phones have an advantage over professional cameras as the software is designed to deal with a wider range of conditions.

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Clutter! Get rid of any and all clutter. Your cool beermat collection will not photograph well nor will the teddy bears. The more¬†clutter in an image, the busier it is, detracting from the room and making it¬†look smaller. The same is true for rubbish bins. People don’t want to see them. Then when you think it is ready take a test shot and see if anything jumps out at you, for example a furniture polish bottle with a red lid. If you notice it you can be sure it’s the first thing someone else will see. Take out anything that is too attention grabbing unless you want it to be a feature of the room.

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Get back! In answer to why I, and most photographers, will be in a corner when photographing property is that you want to be as far back as possible to capture as much of the room as you can. You also only really want 2 walls in your picture, 3 makes the space look smaller.

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Angles! Or more importantly straight lines, are another reason for the squatting in the corner. This is also where camera phones make your life easier. Where a professional lens (especially wide angle lenses) has a curve to it, which distorts lines, a camera phone or iPad fixes lens curvature this itself. With my camera I want the majority of lines to be straight, so I start from my starting perspective and squat down until my vertical and horizontal lines are straight.¬†Make sure your vertical lines are straight. No one likes squint horizons or verticals unless it’s for a specific artistic compositional reason.

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Editing! This is a camera phone and tablet tip, use the editing software to brighten your images up if they need it. Don’t just think ‘they’ll do’. 5 more minutes and you can have pictures that represent your property much better. There are lots of options just don’t use obvious filters so your pictures end up looking like a teenager’s Instagram feed. No one will take it seriously.

Almost forgot! Take your pictures in landscape, not portrait, as that is how there are usually displayed on property websites.

Finally, sometimes it is easier just to hire a professional so you can avoid being featured on my favourite blog…Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos. It’s brilliant!

What do you get when you hire a professional photographer?

Today is a different type of information day. I’m sending you to look at something that explains how photographers work. A great video from the talented Magnus Bogucki, a Swiss wedding photographer, who lays out in less than 3 minutes what exactly you are getting when you hire him. Obviously, other types of photography have different requirements…album design isn’t really called for in profile pictures (I’ll make you one¬†if you want ;)). I would like to challenge is the impression that I often get that we, being photographers, are only working for you when we are actually taking the pictures. There is a lot more to it. I’m sure this will ring true with a lot of other people, especially in the creative industries.

What do you think? Was it what you expected? Was there anything that you found surprising?

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