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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Imagery lessons for SMEs…using Tinder

Here is a giggle and a few things to think about on imagery for small and medium sized businesses.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about Tinder. For those who are not familiar it’s a dating app where you select people you are interested in based on 1 initial image, 5 additional pictures and a few words. If it sounds superficial, it is, but you would be amazed how much you can learn about yourself and others in 6 pictures.

Then when I sat down to write today’s blog on imagery lessons for SMEs it occurred to me that it is a perfect example of how to use imagery effectively. Looking at the difference between stock photography and images tailored for your target market, the importance of first impressions and how to tell a story that gets across your USP.

There is a caveat in this post that the pictures are not of professional quality but being used to illustrate a point 😉

So back to my friend…lets call him ‘Gary’ (not his real name). Gary is looking to get back into the dating game after a long time away and he wanted to get my impression of his Tinder profile, so we started with his main image, the picture everyone sees first. He had a really nice professional picture lifted straight from his LinkedIn profile…the stock photography of Tinder pictures if you will. A terrible choice in my opinion for a number of reasons.

  • Firstly it tells someone looking at it absolutely nothing about you.
  • Secondly it appeals to the pretty much anyone, which is fine if you are going for mass market, but of no use if you are looking for a specific type of client or in this case are a bit more discerning about your dating preferences.
  • Thirdly, Tinder is full of people you really don’t want to meet, so you should be using your images to filter out people who you will have nothing in common with to save yourself (and them) some time and effort.

In contrast this is my opening image on Tinder…

Tinder Main Image

…I have found this very effective in filtering out people I have nothing in common with. I think is says a few things: I’m interested in politics**, when dressing up I like to commit and come from left field…you will never find me in a ‘sexy nun’ outfit, I have a pretty dark sense of humour and am happy to laugh at myself. This immediately removes lots of people who would class me as a weirdo and have no interest in politics and attracts people who think I look like a laugh. From a business perspective it talks to my niche market!

Then if they click though, to learn more about me, they see…

Fitness is important and I'm pretty confident/have a high opinion of myself.

‘Fitness is important and I’m pretty confident/have a high opinion of myself.’

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‘I’m a keen photographer and traveller.’

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‘I can look presentable sometimes…’

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‘…but most of the time i don’t really care…would rather swim in a loch.’

In conclusion:

  • The importance of stock photography verses images tailored for your target market, really depends on how niche your product is and how much you want to stand out from your competition. The majority of SMEs I meet have very clever and interesting things to offer but that is often not communicated by their online presence. This seems like a lost opportunity to me.
  • First impressions are massively important, if people don’t like what they see you will get swiped left (rejected) and you’ll never see that prospective client again. Making your landing page engaging is key.
  • Telling a story though images is much easier and more engaging than text and as result gets across your USP much more effectively when done correctly.

I hope that made a few of you smile on a Friday. Any questions on photography for business or setting up online dating profiles ask below 😉

**I would usually keep political leanings off any of my business platforms, but in this case it makes a point and for anyone who’s interested I voted yes in the referendum because I believe in the positive, socialist message of the Yes campaign, not because I wanted separation. I love everyone, but don’t think the system is serving those that it should be. C x

commercial photography, Edinburgh

The Best of Week One

So 9 days in to the 30 day blogging challenge and its 11pm…oh well not exactly to plan but it’s going to be done before midnight! Here is the edited highlights for you to see all of this weeks ideas.

Day 1: Getting started: taking action and setting goals. The start of my 30 day blogging challenge. Lessons, goals and getting started. With links to Sarah Arrow’s 30 day blogging challenge.

Day 1 Getting started

Day 2: Finding a Commercial Photographer. How do you find the right commercial photographer for you and your business?

Day 3: The Myth of Only being Online. Why I think business needs face to face interaction more than just an online presence. People buy from people.

Day 4: They Importance of Systems to a Creative. How do you find time and headspace to be creative? I need a system.

Day 5: Learning from others. Learning from other people is a key part of business. Here is some great tips from Sanja Moll of the Salt Yard Group and LeCoq restaurants.

Day 6: How do you keep your productivity? Weightlifting is great for entrepreneurs. It’s all about maximising productivity!

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Day 7: Why do you need a professional profile picture? Why are professional profile pictures important to have and to use? Ultimately, you are your brand. With links to William Arruda’s ‘22 LinkedIn Secrets LinkedIn Won’t Tell You’ article fro Forbes.

Day 8: Your message your market. The importance of images to get your message across to your target market. With links to Mark Parkinson: The Power of Visual Communication, Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty, Red Bull: Stratos.

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The importance of systems to a creative

I like to think of myself as a creative type, but being creative is something I have been struggling with for the first time in my life. This is mainly due to running my own business…or more accurately due to one of the major challenges of being a one man band, having to do everything myself. I am my own book keeper, PA, marketing department, designer, researcher…you name it the job is mine. This has created an environment where my brain feels rammed full of lots of things I struggle to understand half the time. The result of which has lead to a lack of headspace, and often time, to be creative. This has to change!

Day 4 ERP-systems

A lot of creatives I know face similar challenges and have a variety of ways of dealing with them, but systems are mine. The better my systems the more headspace I get back. This doesn’t come easily to me as being mildly dyslexic and growing up in a haphazard environment ‘a place for everything and everything in it’s place’ is a fairly foreign concept. However, I know when I’ve got it right because I stop thinking about it and gain a sense of calm. I get mocked for being OCD by my family, but I’m not really it’s just the more things I have to fit in the more organised I have to be. If I have to spent 15mins looking for something it drives me up the wall.

Good business systems have the same calming effect on me. I have a checklist with a time frame for each client so that I don’t have to think about when and where things have to be done. This gives me the opportunity to be creative and in the long run delivers a better product, more efficiently to the client, leading to a better client experience.

Unfortunately, I don’t yet have any systems in place for blogging and social media promotion…but not for long…the 30 day blogging challenge is going to fix that!

I’d love to here how important other people feel systems are to their business, especially if they are in the creative industries and how you create more time and headspace in your weeks. Leave a comment below and we can all pool our ideas to save time, stay sane and be more creative.

Thanks Claire x

The myth of only being online

My business requires touching…before you get the wrong idea I mean it can’t exist only online. I have to have face to face contact with products, suppliers and, most importantly, clients both for my health but also for the health of my business. I think this is true for many businesses, but like many I’m guilty of often get bogged down online. I don’t forget that websites and social media are tools to make real world connections, but sometime I spend an unproductive amount of time obsessing over them. The 30 day challenge is my way of forcing action rather than obsessing.

Choosing products is a prime example of something that I can’t do online. It requires touching. There is no way of deciding online if I love a product. Does the cover feel right to the touch? What is the standard of the finish? What kind of paper captures the feel of the session? Do I feel happy asking my clients to pay the price for the product? I had a great day yesterday having a look (and feel) of some new ideas from Kaleidoscope-Framing, my favourite being the signature option, which takes photography back to works of art. I also loved the quality of finish on the Jorgensen Albums from SWPM. They are going to be great additions to my existing products from Loxley Colour.

Suppliers are another area where real people make all the difference. Don’t get me wrong online printing is great for convenience and I love Moo for both ease and quality, but for bigger investments and for branding I want to talk to a real person, which sometimes slows me down but in the end I’m always happier with the outcome. Personal touches are always very welcome. Glasgow Print are a prime example of a beautiful product. However, what really impressed me was the hand written note in the sample pack they sent through. The more I interact with businesses like these the more I know what kind of business I want to be and what type of client experience I want to build.

Glasgow Press sample packClients and connections also get touched…usually shaking hands, but for professional profile pictures it’s usually a bit more…what can I say I hate rucked fabric. I try and meet all prospective clients for a coffee or a chat before I take on their project. This is because it’s not just about the price being right, expectations have to be set managed. All of my most successful projects have been part of a team effort. In my experience most people communicate their ideas, so much better in person than over email, phone etc. Though some claim the opposite I find it rarely to be true, if you know how to ask the right questions communication is always better face to face. The same is true for business connections. How can you recommend someone you have never met of worked with? You’re basically handing over your credibility to someone you’ve never met, so while LinkedIn is great to keep in touch and make connections it’s never going to supersede coffee for me.

In conclusion, being online is a great tool but for me it’s never going to replace human contact because in the end people by from people.

Finding a commercial photographer

How do you find the right commercial photographer for you and your business?

We’ve all heard the numbers 65 and 85 percent of people describe themselves as visual learners*. This means they digest information more easily by viewing an image instead of reading text, so how do you get images that represent you and your business?

I’ll talk about how to take better images using smart phones and tablets that communicate your brand values on social media in later blogs, but for your website, print media and branding you should hire a professional. Your challenge is to find the right photographer for you.

Lets assume that you have asked around, got a few names of local photographers and looked at their websites, so you know they own cameras and can take a decent picture, but that’s not all you need to think about.

We all want images that talk to our prospective clients and communicate our USP to our target market. How do you find professional photographer who can do that?

You need to be able to answer 2 questions: WHAT and WHO?

WHAT is your USP? What skills, goods, features, people make your business what it is? Why should people come to you rather than someone else? You have a limited number of images. Make sure you get as much value as possible by focusing on what is unique to you. You are the best person to explain this to your photographer and if you don’t or can’t they will just be guessing and you are less likely to get the most from your money.

WHO is your target market? Age, gender, location, income and a range of other factors influence how we read images. By knowing who you want to influence a good commercial photographer should be able to get you images that connect with prospective clients.

You then sit down with your prospective photographer(s) and talk over your project. Go with your gut. Do you feel they understand the project? Do you like the suggestions they make? Can you see yourself working with them? These are the things you need to know first, because if the answer is no, then there is no point in working out the fine details.

If the answer is yes then get down to hard facts. Have a budget for what you can afford and an ideal number of images in your head before you start (e.g. 3 possible profile pictures, 10 images of key products, 5 stock images for banners on your website, 1 team picture etc.). The more information you can provide the better the quote you will get.

The photographer should be able to give you a rough idea of long it will take. Explain how they price their work (e.g. number of hours, images, days, etc.) and their policy on copyright and licensing. Any professional photographer should be completely comfortable explaining this to you, if they can’t then I would politely move on to another prospect unless you really believe they are the best person for the job.

Finally, when you have agreed terms, deliverables and set a time frame there are a few more things you can do to get the most out of your session. If you want a profile picture for LinkedIn and a 3/4 shot to go on a 3 fold leaflet, 9 square images of products to go in an online shop and 3 banners to sit at the top of your website homepage, Twitter and Facebook let the photographer know as they should be taking it into consideration when composing your images.

I’m probably forgetting some details, but hopefully that has given you a bit more confidence and knowledge about how to deal with hiring a commercial photographer and if you have any other questions ask them below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Apologies for the lack of pictures I’ll add more on the next post 😉 C x

*Reference: http://sendible.com/insights/the-power-of-images-in-social-media-marketing/#ixzz3ca7ObCwh

Getting started: taking action and setting goals

I have been meaning to do Sarah Arrow’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge for months. My excuses/reasons (depending on your perspective) for not taking the plunge have been vast and varied. My main question has been do I blog for the existing commercial photography side of my business or the new portraiture studio I am in the middle of setting up? I have been going round in circles on this for much more time than is productive. In the end the decision is obvious. The setting up the new side of the business and the existing commercial work have a common business based theme and are things I am constantly dealing with, so are both the most useful things to reflect on and easiest to come up with topics for.

Lesson 1: Stop wasting time (procrastination cost money)

Lesson 2: Often the obvious answer is the correct one (stop over thinking and trust my gut)

Lesson 3: Sometimes the path of least resistance is the one you should take, despite most of the motivational pictures on the internet say the opposite!

Day 1 Getting started STARTING POINT…Where does my online promotion currently stand?

  • Blog: Current number of posts 12. Frequency of posting: once every 3 months. Commenting on other blogs: almost never…hence the uninspiring screen shot.

Day1 Stats

  • LinkedIn: Blog posts once…maybe: Comments on other people’s posts once a week
  • Twitter: Erratic…not always relevant

Day 1 Twitter GOALS (measurable things for the next 30 days and final numbers)

  1. Blog everyday (Total 42 blogs).
  2. Comment on at least 2 other blogs.
  3. Post content (blog or other relevant content) on LinkedIn everyday (30 posts).
  4. Tweet relevant content 3 times a day (total tweets 3,152<).
  5. Follow 5 other bloggers on twitter every week (Total following 1,980).

NICE THINGS…stuff I’d like to happen but as I have no control over how other people will act I’m not including them in goals.

  1. Have 50 people reading my blog by the end of the 30 days.
  2. Have 3 pieces of work directly linked to the blog.
  3. Have a group of online blog based friends who I can bounce ideas off when needed and vice versa.

Woohoo! 1 down only 29 to go!