Saturday, 24 December 2011

Monday, 12 December 2011

My First Few Weeks!

So I've been in my new studio for just over a month now and I'm loving it!!!  I've been mega busy with family shoots and also taken a couple of wedding bookings from the extra exposure the shop front has given me!  It makes me smile when py pictures make other people smile!

I've started to quiet down a bit now so it's time to put up a few shots of the new place and a couple of pics from my first few weeks.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Does it Really Cost £250 to Put Some Photos on a Disc?

What I'm referring to here is digital copies of photos from a studio sitting. And no, it doesn't cost £250 to put photos on a disc. So why do I charge £250 for your photos on a disc?

Ultimately, I have to make a profit… Many people think digital copies are a cheap way of getting lots of prints. Get the disc, take it to Tesco and get dozens of prints for all the family for pennies. Well yes. That would be great. But I don't make anything from it. What I really want is for you to buy all those prints from me. And some frames. And maybe a canvass or 2!

But I understand that people might not want to do that. You're likely to get between 30 and 50 photos if you buy a disc. If you bought the prints from me that would cost you at least £450. And that's just for 7x5"! So what I'm basically doing is compensating myself for the prints you don't get from me. For that many photos £250 is a bargain really!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Thou Shalt Not Steal

Please don't nick my pictures!!

This is a very polite plea for you not to use my images on your own websites without my permission or a credit. And that includes Facebook!

Legally, the photos I take belong to me. If I sell you a picture you own that copy of the picture. You aren't (legally) allowed to copy it in any way. Similarly if I put a photo on my website, that picture belongs to me. You are not allowed to copy that picture from my site. You are definitely not allowed to save it, print it or stick it on Facebook as your own! If you do I am within my rights to claim compensation from you.

OK, that's the legal position. I'm not quite that militant in practice. If I really didn't want people to take my photos from my site I could protect them. What I actually do is watermark them in the certain knowledge that some people will put them on Facebook giving me a free advert to all their friends!

So basically what I'm saying is - if you really must pinch my images and put them on Facebook, just tell people who took them!

Ta then!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

New Studio - At Last…

So it's finally finished and open! I'm half way through my first week and it's going very well. I had a busy week last week photographing and editing and this week is just the same! The weekends are busy as well…

It's fantastic to be back in the studio at last. It's been 9 months since my last studio shoot! I was a bit worried I would have forgotten how to do it… But they have all gone really well so far. I actually think the shots I've taken this week are some of the best I've ever taken. I think having some time off has given me a chance to come up with new ideas and editing methods. Hopefully some of the parents will let me put a few up on my Facebook page… Have a look and see if they have!

Although I've only just reopened it's nearly time to stop for Christmas! To guarantee Christmas delivery the shoot needs to be done by the end of November. So in a couple of weeks it'll be all about the vouchers!

Thanks to everyone for their support so far. It has really helped get me up and running again. I won't name them - you know who you are!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

New Studio - Time to Decorate!

OK.  So I wanted to write an update on this every couple of nights with a progress report.  But I've been so busy I just haven't had time!

Over the last 2 and a half weeks me and my dad have been putting in 8 to 12 hour days 7 days a week to get it all sorted.  And we're finally nearly there!  All the building and joinery work is done and most of the painting.  Just a few bits of skirting board to finish off, a bit of wallpaper then it's just the dressing to do.

That might be the hard bit though...  I think I might rearrange my pictures and furniture a few times before I'm happy but I WILL be ready to open on Monday 7th November.  Although that's my birthday so I might leave it until Tuesday...

Monday, 17 October 2011

New Studio - Let's Build!

So I'm in and started moving on the renovation!  So far I have:
  • Stripped a load of wallpaper
  • Knocked a hole in a wall for a door
  • Removed a door and blocked up that hole
  • Knocked another hole through for a changing room
  • Got a massive delivery of wood for more walls
  • And made a start on some stud work!

I say 'I'.  I've had a lot of help...  If I overuse 'I' please replace it in your head with 'we'.

I'll be getting some signs soon as well.  Keep an eye out as you're passing!

Friday, 14 October 2011

New Studio - Episode IV : A New Hope

A long time ago in a solicitor's not that far away I started the process of renting a commercial property. 3 solicitors, an estate agent and a bank all got involved and 5 months later we've finally completed!

Well it's about bloody time frankly!  At last I have my keys and can now make a start on the renovations, decorations and preparations.

Thankfully there isn't much to do. Some new signs, a couple of new walls and doors and a bit of a window display should just about do it! And obviously a bit of tidying and decoration just to make it look as stunning in real life as it does in my head...

With a bit of luck I'll be open for business by late October. Just in time for the Christmas rush! A bit late to start advertising really but I was a bit nervous to start shouting too loud until I actually had my keys.  I now need to contact my list of interested people and cross my fingers they haven't found somewhere else to go or just lost interest!

I'll be having a big push on vouchers as well in December for anyone stuck for gift ideas!

Right.  Off to strip some wallpaper!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

New Studio - The Saga Continues...

So, another 2 weeks on and still no keys!  I'm sure I don't need to tell you I'm getting really frustrated now. Again, no-one seems to know why it's not been sorted.  The photographic schedule has been sent to my solicitor, the landlord's solicitor and the lender's solicitor.  That was on 14th September. I was told yesterday that the landlord's solicitor was awaiting a fax from the lender's solicitor.  As of 10 minutes ago that still hadn't arrived.

So basically, this is an update to let you know I have nothing new to tell you...

I would like to extend a massive apology to anyone waiting for a portrait session in the studio. Thank you for your patience and I will do everything I can to shoot you as soon as I possibly can!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

New Studio - The Next Installment

So the last thing I said was that the consent to let had been granted.  Apparently not so.  Well not quite anyway...

I've been told now that for some reason no-one can explain the landlord's lender has referred the consent to their solicitor.  Don't ask.  I don't know why.  They have asked for a full photographic schedule showing the current state of the property.  I would have thought that responsibility would lie with the landlord, but nevertheless I was asked to provide it.  Which is where I've been all afternoon...

Still, on the positive side, I now have something to show you!

This is the main area inside.  It's a great space and doesn't need loads doing to make it useable so when I finally get the keys it should only be a couple of weeks before I'm open.

OK.  Starting to get a bit more excited now...

Friday, 9 September 2011

New Studio - An Update

So.  Another week on and still no keys!  I have today been told that the consent to let has been granted so there's nothing stopping it going ahead, but apparently I still have to wait another week before I actually get the keys...

I could use this opportunity to reiterate how frustrated I am, but frankly it's gone beyond that.  From the start I've been through excited, nervous, disappointed, angry, very angry, back to (slightly less) excited, to anxious to frustrated, angry again, frustrated once more to where I am now which is fed up and just wanting it all to be over.

I have a long list of people to contact once I'm in, which is a positive to focus on.  I can't help thinking about the even longer list of people I know I've lost over the summer while this fiasco has been playing out.

I am starting to get a bit more excited.  I've been disgruntled for too long now.  It's time to get a bit more gruntled...

Monday, 29 August 2011

New Studio. The Story So Far...

October 2010. That's when I first found a studio! Almost a year ago!!!!!!! And I'm still not in... I'm more than a little frustrated.

So I found a place advertised with Lovelle Bacons in Grimsby. Had a look around and decided it was perfect! Big space, little office, kitchen area, toilet, parking.  Perfect.  I negotiated a deal with the landlord to fit some shutters and went ahead with the planning application for change of use.  OK, that process took a while but I got there.  I asked the estate agent (Lovelle Bacons if you missed it) if I needed to sign anything or pay a deposit to secure the proerty and was told no, get the planning approval then we'll talk lease.  At this stage you can probably work out the end of this little chapter but let me fill in the gaps anyway...

So I put my (expensive) application in and waited for it to be approved. Naturally I was in contact with the estate agent throughout.  Once it was all granted I contacted Lovelle Bacons once again to get moving with the lease only to be told that the person I was speaking to had left the company, hadn't written anything down and that the landlord had instructed them to let to someone else. That brought the mood down!

Apparently what Lovelle Bacons did wasn't illegal, but in my opinion it was unethical and definitely unprofessional. Still... you don't get a reputation like theirs by accident.

So I started again.  I looked at a few and found one. Not quite as good as the first, but in a better area and with a reputable agent. I agreed a rent and started the process.  This time I got the lease sorted first and arranged for an agreement to lease subject to everything going through smoothly.

I won't labour the point, but the process officially started on 9th May. I was told it would take 4 - 6 weeks to sort the lease and agreement.  It's now nearly 4 months.  I have no idea what has been taking so long or why it has been delayed, but solicitors are now on my naughty list along with estate agents.

All being well, I get the keys tomorrow. I'll believe it when I have them in my hand though. Watch this space...

Monday, 22 August 2011

Successful Networking

I wrote a while ago (here) about the various networking groups in the area and since then I've got myself a bit hooked! So I thought I'd give you my top tips to successful networking.

Avoid the Farmyard
Pardon???  What I mean is, try to avoid being rabbits, sheep and cockerels. You've seen the types...
- Rabbits (particularly the ones caught in headlights) will walk into a room and look terrified. They don't know anyone, don't have a lot of confidence and won't start a conversation with anyone. Not great for networking. Try not to be a rabbit but if you see one, go and introduce yourself.
- Sheep are followers. They also stick together. They'll walk into a room, spot someone they know and head straight over. That's not really broadening your horizons is it? Get out of your comfort zone and speak to someone new. Maybe a rabbit?
- Cockerels make a lot of noise. They walk into a room, pick the closest person and set their mouth to transmit. They'll tell you everything you need to know about them and a whole load of stuff you don't need to know as well. They will immediately sell sell sell. You're lucky if they ask you name let alone what you do. Do not be this person!

Always. And carefully. People can tell if you're bored so be interested in what they're saying. Don't just go in hoping to sell. Sometimes networking can be good for cheaper or better suppliers, or just good advice. So listen to what other people have to say. You might just learn something!

Stand Out from the Crowd
OK, don't just be a cockerel and be the loudest, but try to be a bit different. Be the one people remember. In some groups there can be more than one person in a particular sector. Which one will people remember? Make sure it's you. I heard a story about a web designer who turned up to a group dressed as Spider Man!  You don't have to be that extreme though.  I've managed to (quite quickly) get a reputation as 'that photographer with the flowery shirts'.  That works well on 2 levels. First, they remember I'm a photographer. And second, they remember me rather than any other photographer. Of course it does mean I always need to have a flowery shirt!

Give it Time
Networking is about building relationships. You're unlikely to find huge repeat business (or much business at all) at your first meeting. It takes a while for people to get to know you as a person, like you and trust you. It's worth the wait though. Once you have someone's trust they are much more likely to recommend you to their friends. Often without having used you themselves.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Nice Package!

So I was trying to work out how to make it easier for me to present my photos to clients, easier for them to choose what they like and easier for me to make more money! And it was suggested to me that I start to offer some packages.  So I did.  They combine a few elements together and offer a real saving to my clients, while at the same time (hopefully) encouraging repeat business.  And the packages are (in chronological order - you'll work it out...):

- A full 2 hour photo shoot with unlimited outfit changes
- An 8x8" coffee table portfolio book with your favourite 20 pictures
- The option to add hair and make-up for an extra charge
- 10% discount off anything else you buy from the shoot
- All this for £150
- saving you a minimum of £50!

Bump to Baby
- 3 shoots.  One at around 26 weeks, one at around 34 weeks and one when your new arrival, erm, arrives
- Your favourite 8x6" photo from each shoot mounted together in a frame
- At least £20 of vouchers including Mothercare, Next and Argos
- 10% discount off anything else you buy from the shoots
- All this for £175
- saving you a minimum of £50!

Baby's First Year
- 4 shoots during your baby's first year - newborn, 4, 8 and 12 months or 3, 6, 9, and 12 months
- Your favourite 7x5" photo from each shoot mounted together in a frame
- At least £20 of vouchers including Mothercare, Next and Argos
- 10% discount off anything else you buy from the shoots
- All this for £175
- saving you a minimum of £60!

Kids' Club!
- 3 shoots over 3 years for the whole family
- A framed 10x8" print from each shoot
- At least £20 of vouchers including Toys R Us, Next and Argos
- 10% discount off anything else you buy from the shoots
- All this for £200
- saving you a minimum of £70!

So if you fancy one, get in touch!

Monday, 4 July 2011

What's the Point of Twitter?

Good question.

Well, if it's used well it can be a really good marketing tool.  I'm far from an expert on the subject, but here's my top 5 tips anyway!

1. Be a person
People buy from people.  It's important to come across as a real person and not just an automated selling machine.  Use your own language, be informal and most importantly be yourself.  You should mirror your real life personality online.  It's less of a shock if people actually meet you!

2. Don't be an egg
 This is an extension of Number 1.  Get yourself a profile picture.  I always wonder why people don't have an avatar.  Are they shy, embarrassed or just lazy??  Get one!  I prefer photos but as a minimum at least get your logo up there.

3. Follow the right people
Firstly there's a chance they might follow you back.  But more importantly you can pick up tips and tricks from the people who do it well.  Follow your competition and people in the same business in different parts of the country as well.  You'll get a good feel for the latest trends in your industry and get some ideas for new products and offers.

4. Interact
Don't just sell!  Comment on other people's tweets.  Reply to messages.  And always say thank you when someone follows you.  And you can be a bit interesting with what you tweet as well.  OK, no-one cares what you had for breakfast, but other stuff might be interesting.  Have you won a new contract, had a good afternoon at a local attraction or at the beach?

5. Time it right
If you have an important message to get out make sure people will read it!  Around 9am and 5pm are peak times, but for a more accurate measure you can use sites like 14Blocks to see when your followers are on line.  If it's not convenient to tweet at those times you can always use sites like HootSuite and BufferApp.

Hope that's useful to some of you.  I'm no expert but these tips work for me...  And if you fancy following, I'm @ChrisLynnPhoto

Monday, 27 June 2011

What Goes Into a Portrait Sitting?

I thought I'd explain the process.  Just to give you an insight into the work involved in producing the portraits you put on your wall and treasure forever.

Before the shoot
Before you book you'll want to have a chat.  It's natural.  I'll talk you through how it works and find out exactly what you want from the shoot.  Is it a family shoot?  Is it just the kids?  Will mum and dad be getting involved?  Is it an adult couple?  Or maybe you're feeling brave and fancy a bit more of a risque boudoir shoot!  You might want traditional pictures or something more relaxed and fun.  You might want to come into my studio or maybe go on location at the beach, in a park or even in your own home.  All are fine!

I'll also find out what sort of photos you'd like to take away from it.  Do you have a frame already and just want the prints?  Maybe you want me to supply a hand made top quality bespoke frame.  Or an acrylic.  Or a canvass wrap.  Again... all are fine!

I'll show you some samples and can take you through my portfolio.  If you like what you see you book!  All it costs is £25!

At the shoot
A couple of days before the shoot I'll ring just to confirm everything is still on.  And maybe give you some directions...  I'll also advise what sort of clothes to wear and what props to bring to keep the kids happy!

On the day it's show time!  When you arrive at the studio you will feel right at home.  There's a comfortable sofa, tea, coffee and soft drinks.  There's a bit of music playing as well which you can choose!  I'll already be set up for you so when you're comfortable we can get cracking.

A shoot lasts around 45 minutes to an hour and is a LOT of fun!  If it's your thing I'll get you running and jumping and enjoying yourself.  I have a massive list of poses for every situation and a good imagination so we'll never be short of ideas!  Boudoir shoots are a bit less manic but still a lot of fun.

It's natural for everyone to be a bit nervous before we start, but 5 minutes in and you'll forget the nerves and relax right into it.  People are often surprised at how comfortable and relaxed they feel during a shoot.  That's a massive compliment to me and something I work hard at!

After the shoot
As soon  as possible I get your photos downloaded onto my Mac.  As a safety measure I back your photos up onto a hard drive that's stored off site and also onto an online storage site.  So your photos are safe!

Then it's editing time.  I sort through all the photos from the shoot and select the best.  There's usually around 30 photos after the first cut.  I'll then edit all of them individually.  I'll make sure the background is clean, the exposure is correct, the colours look right and the contrast is good.  When that's done it's time to get creative...

There's a lot you can do in Photoshop.  I'll choose a few of the photos and enhance them so you look your absolute best.  I'll pick the best techniques for the mood of the pictures and the way you've chosen to present them.

Last, I create a slideshow for you to view when you come in to see them.  I also upload them to my website and give them a username and password for you to browse at your leisure.

At the viewing
About a week after the shoot I'll arrange for you to come back in and see your pictures.  There's the same sofa and drinks so you'll fee at home.  I'll dim the light and show you the slideshow.  You can see it as many times as you like so don't feel you have to take notes...

When you've seen it we'll go through the photos one by one and you can select your favourites.  This can take a long time so don't feel rushed.  There is no pressure to buy a lot.  Or really big ones!

When you've made your decision you'll choose a frame if you want one and the sizes.  And of course pay (sorry...).  And that's it.  Well from your point of view at least...

After the viewing
Now I have to order your pictures.  There may be more editing to do and some resizing or sharpening and then I send them off to a pro lab for printing.  When I get them back it's off to a local framer to get your frames hand made and your pictures mounted.

When that's done you van pick them up from me or I'll deliver them to you.

Then all that's left is for you to decide where to hang them.  And decide when you're coming in for your next shoot!!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

10 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

We've all heard the horror stories about dodgy wedding photographers.  He turned up late, he didn't turn up at all, the pictures were out of focus, it was all feet, people's heads were chopped off.  I could continue...  So here's my own guide to choosing a photographer for the biggest day of you life!

1. Do you like your photographer?
It's important to get on.  You are likely to spend a lot of time together beforehand and on the day itself.  You might see more of the photographer than some of the guests!  During the group shots the photographer will be directing all the guests into position so they need to like him/her as well.  So you need to feel comfortable with them.

2. How long have they been photographing weddings?
Experience counts.  Anyone can turn up to a wedding and take photos, but it takes practice and experience to get the truly memorable shots you'll want to look at again and again.  There is an element of luck involved - right place, right time.  But the more experience your photographer has the more often they're in that right place at just the right time!

3. Are they full time or part time?
A full time photographer does this for a living.  They've done it lots of times before.  They also have a good amount of time to dedicate to editing your photos.  A part time photographer is likely to have a full time job and is taking photos in their spare time.  There are obviously some excellent part timers out there but a pro will be able to dedicate the time to your pictures that they deserve.

4. What comes in the package?
Don't get stung by extras.  Make sure their prices are completely transparent and you know exactly what you'll be getting before you book.  Is the album included?  How much are extra copies?  How much are individual prints and canvasses?  Is postage extra?

5. Ask to see samples.
ALWAYS!!!!  I can't stress that enough!  And insist on seeing a full wedding.  A sample portfolio is likely to include the best 4 or 5 photos from several weddings.  Your album will have dozens of photos all from YOUR wedding.  Insist on seeing a couple of entire albums from previous weddings.

6. Ask for recommendation.
Ask your friends.  Ask your family.  Ask your photographer if it's OK to speak to a previous client!  People won't always want to be approached but ask anyway.  If he doesn't want to at least try, ask yourself why...

7. What insurance do they have?
As a (legal) minimum your photographer should have Public Liability insurance.  A pro will also have Professional Indemnity insurance.  This will cover them in the unlikely event that something terrible happens to your photos before you get them.

8. Check the Ts and Cs
OK.  It's a bit boring but make sure there's nothing in there you don't like.  If there is, say so.

9. Do a bit of Googling
Look them up online.  Have a look at their website.  Check them out on Facebook or Twitter.  Do you like what you see?  Does it look professional?

10. What's the contingency plan?
Accidents happen.  Your photographer might get hit by a bus or abducted by aliens.  OK, it's unlikely, but what's the plan if they do.  Make sure there is a plan to find a replacement photographer so you don't miss out.

Hope that's helped!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Happy to Travel

A couple of weeks ago I went overseas to photograph a wedding!  Well OK.  It was Jersey so not quite foreign, but I got there on a plane!

It was an absolutely lovely day!  Or more like week...  The bride and groom had kindly agreed to pay for my flights and it just so happened that flights were cheaper on a Wednesday.  The wedding was on the Saturday so it made sense to make a bit of a holiday of it!

It gave me the chance to give them the service they deserved as well.  Getting there early meant I could see them to discuss details and timings and also visit the venue to familiarise myself with it before the day itself.

The day was fab!  The weather couldn't have been better.  Glorious sunshine and little whispy clouds.  I arrived at the Bride's house at 11am to find the girls sitting outside in the sun while one of the bridesmaids had her makeup done in the conservatory!  I like their style...

When the girls were done it was time to get to the venue.  The venue was beautiful - La Mare Vineyard in St. Mary, Jersey.  With the sun still out it made for some great shots of the guests enjoying themselves.  The ceremony was in a marquee with excellent light.  So again, some cracking photos!

A bit more fun in the sun for the guests and I took the newlyweds off for some portrait style shots.  The colours of the sky, trees, grass, vines and the Bride's flowers looked stunning!

I stayed to photograph the speeches and they were kind enough to invite me to the evening reception as well.  So all in all a brilliant day!  Thanks, Luisa and Jason.

If you want to see a few more photos from this wedding have a look at my Facebook page.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Could you just...?

This one really adds to the last post.  I think maybe I've had a string of difficult customers recently that's got me thinking about this.  They fall into 2 camps:

First is the "Could you just...?" crowd.  Could you just airbrush my arm fat?  Could you just make my nose less red?  Could you just make it look like a sunny day?  (All real examples by the way!)  All of my pictures are individually edited and I do make a great effort to remove any non-permanent blemishes like spots or bruises.  But my prices are based on the standard work I do.  Please understand that if I have to make your nose less red on every single photo this add a massive amount of time to the process.

Second is the deal hunter.  You know the conversation.  "That'll be £220 please."  "Oh.  I only have £200.  Is there anything you can do?"  Well yes, there is something I can do.  I can not sell you £20 worth of photos.  It sounds a bit harsh but my prices are very fair for me and my clients.  I think the worst are the ones who ask for the digital file if they buy the print.  I only make money from selling photos from a portrait shoot.  It might sound very mercenary, but if you want 3 copies of a print, please buy 3 copies of a print.  Don't try and wangle the full size digital file out of me under the pretense that you're just going to "put it up on Facebook and that".  I will sell you the digital files, but they are deliberately disproportionately expensive.  I will only ever sell that once and it could turn into dozens of prints for the whole family meaning I lose out.

You wouldn't take your car in to get new tyres and ask "You couldn't just replace a few bulbs and tighten the handbrake at no extra charge as well could you?"  Equally you don't barter with the automated checkout at Sainsbury's to try and get a free tin of beans because you didn't bring enough cash out with you!

I'm a big believer in 'if you don't ask you don't get' so by all means ask.  But don't be offended if the answer is no.

Sorry if I sound a bit ranty but it's good to get things off your chest sometimes!

Monday, 2 May 2011

It's HOW much?!?!?

I've been feeling recently that I have to justify myself and my prices. It can be a bit difficult doing it individually without causing offense or sounding patronising or condescending or argumentative. So here it is. Please don't take offense...

£1100 for a wedding album?!
Well yes. But also no. What many people don't understand is the time it takes to get to delivering your wedding album. Before you've even booked me I've probably spent an hour or 2 talking to you at your house or in my studio. Before the wedding I've been to see you again, usually at the venue(s). On the day itself I might be with the bride from 10am and won't leave until the speeches are over which can be 7 or 8pm. For those not counting we're up to 12 hours already! After the day (while you're on honeymoon) I then edit the pictures. Every single picture has some work done to it even if it's a little bit of cropping. That can be another 5 or 6 hours. When you've chosen your photos I then have the album and thank you cards to design and order. There goes another 4 hours! Totalling all that a wedding can take me between 20 and 24 hours. Factor in the cost of the preview book, album and cards as well and it's easy to see why wedding photographers charge what they do. In fact I might put my prices up!

£15 for a photo?! I can get it for 20p in Tesco!
Yes you can.  So why do I charge £15? Your photo, whether framed or not realistically doesn't cost me what I sell it for. But what business out there doesn't make a profit? None. None that are still trading anyway...  Retailers typically sell items for 3 times what they buy them for.  Restaurants generally quadruple the cost of the ingredients.  Why? There are many more costs than just the product.  A (good, professional, legal, responsible) photographer has a lot of expenses not directly associated with your pictures.  For example - studio costs, equipment, insurance, advertising, travel, etc...  Then there's the time again.  Including the shoot, the editing, the presentation, the re-editing, the ordering and finally the delivery, there can be 6 hours of work involved in your photos!

So please don't be offended by any of this, but please don't tell me (or any other photographers) that we're expensive.  We're just trying to make a living and it ain't easy sometimes!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Their Are To Many Apostrophe's Around!

So this is just a little personal rant.  I'm a bit of a grammar freak so it probably affects me more than it should, but it really bugs me to see spelling and grammar mistakes all over people's marketing materials.

I'm not talking about silly little typos, we all make those.  And I'm not talking about the complex syntax of our unnecessarily complicated language.  I'm talking about basic grammar we should all know from school.  My top 3 are:


Seriously... there should be no excuse!  Whenever I see them it makes me cringe!

It's bad enough to see it in personal Facebook feeds, but basic errors in marketing materials are unforgivable.  And I do count Facebook business pages in that.  I see loads of leaflets, brochures, flyers, websites and blogs with these basic mistakes.

I might be over sensitive, but I think it reflects badly on the owners of the business and the business itself.  As a photographer, I get paid to take photos.  And I'm chosen (or not) by the quality and style of those photos and not the grammar used on my adverts.  But getting it wrong implies (to me at least) a certainly lack of attention to detail.

Just my thoughts...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Twitter Girls Charity Calendar

At last... I can finally talk about it!  After a strict embargo here it is!

Ages ago I saw a retweeted request on Twitter from @ByGinaEvents looking for models, venues, lingerie and photographers for a charity calendar in aid of PC David Rathband's Blue Lamp Foundation and Help for Heroes.  I thought why not?  I always like doing my bit for a good cause and it might be a good publicity opportunity for me as well...  So I got in touch with Gina (and her partner in crime, Jo) offering my services and pointing them at the Boudoir page on my website.  I assumed there would be loads of offers so forgot about it for a while.  Until I got an email through giving me a date and a location!

So on a beautiful if cold 2nd March I trundled off to Langley Priory armed with my camera, a few lights and a coat.

I arrived and was introduced to the models.  Vicky, Laura, Kerri, Candice and Helen were all lovely.  And terrified!!!  Let's just say there wasn't a lot of conversation...

Gina arrived and the girls disappeared upstairs to get changed and have their hair and make-up done.  That's no place for a 6'1" bald bloke with a beard so I went and scouted out a few locations around the venue for shots.  Unfortunately for the girls a few of them were outside!

Once Laura was done I took her off for a few photos on her own.  Might as well make the most of the moment!  Nervous isn't the word, but she was brilliant!  By the end I think she quite enjoyed herself...  Candice was next, then Kerri.  Who were both also incredible!  I think a few photos beforehand was a really good idea.  They seemed to relax into it and were ready for the group shots when everyone else was finished getting ready.  Especially Kerri "America's-Next-Top-Model" Miller!!

Next were the group shots.  We started on the stairs and moved into the Drawing Room.  Which, now I've read it back, sounds like something Barbara Cartland might have written!

Moving on...  The girls were all fab and settled into it really quickly.  I think they might even have enjoyed it.  Just a little bit...  Kerri had to shoot off so we cracked on and got as much done with all 5 as quickly as we could.  Then 5 became 4 and we moved outside.  I was NOT popular at that suggestion.  But, completely professional, out we went and stripped off in 6 degrees.  Not me of course.  I had a coat!

Laura dashed off as well so 4 became 3 and we moved inside to the fireplace.  That brought a few contented smiles.  But didn't last long once we went outside again!  I think it would be fair to say the spray from the fountain was cold!  A few shots by the lake followed by some on the bridge and we were done!

Vicky and Helen used the last few minutes to have some individual shots of themselves before we all packed up and went home.

A few hours of editing later and I'm very happy with the results.  I really did have the easy job in all of this though.  This has got to be the most fun I've had on a shoot for ages.  Gina has worked incredibly hard to organise the shoots all over the country.  Not to mention the amount of driving she's been doing!  The venue is beautiful and the hair, make-up and outfits were fab.  Vicky, Laura, Kerri, Candice and Helen were all incredible.  Fun, professional and hard working.  And let's not forget stunning!  All in all a brilliant day, a brilliant project and 2 brilliant causes.

I can't wait to see the results!

Monday, 11 April 2011


Just thought I'd update on the new studio.  You might have seen on Facebook or Twitter that I've been in the process of sorting out a new studio.  Well I've had a bit of a setback.

Way back in October I found the perfect studio in Grimsby.  Well actually Cleethorpes.  Massive studio room, entrance reception, kitchen, toilet, main road location.  Just what I wanted.  I spent a while deciding then went through the long winded process of applying for planning permission for change of use to a photography studio.  That in itself was an ordeal with conflicting advice being given to me and the landlord.  But that's another tale...

But to cut a long story short, permission was granted and I went back to the estate agent only to be told the property had been let to somebody else!  Throughout I was told I was fine and I didn't need to start lease proceedings so I took the agent at his word.  Other words I can think of regarding the agent are unprofessional, unethical, misrepresentation along with several others not suitable for a mixed audience!

I obviously won't name the agent in question but they do have a reputation in the area so I should have known better really.  But I wasn't going to let a perfect property slip just because I didn't like who was letting it!

Gutted is not the word!  But as I said here and here. I can't let it get me down.  I think I've just about snapped out of the low spot now and have found somewhere else!  It's actually in a better area.  Not quite as big, but much nicer.  So once again... watch this space!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Unusual Wedding Gift???

Just looking for a bit of feedback really.  Please do feel free to comment below or get in touch with me directly.

I've just launched a new idea for my wedding clients.  Many couples already live together before they get married so the wedding list is a bit of a struggle to fill.  I know we had a job choosing things we actually wanted rather than stuff just to fill the list.  There's only so many toasters you can use!

We asked our guests to contribute to our honeymoon, which was great for us, but some of them still wanted to give us a "thing" to open.  Even if it was a voucher for somewhere.  Which got me thinking.  How about getting your guests to pay for your wedding photography?!

So my idea is this: once you've paid me your deposit, you then get a reference number unique to you.  You pass this to your guests (in the invitation) who go onto my website.  They enter the number and the amount they want to spend and I send them a voucher to that value for them to hand over to the happy couple on their wedding day.  In the background I'm tracking all the contributions and amend the final invoice accordingly.

I would have loved a service like that when I got married!  What do you think???

Sunday, 13 February 2011

It's Just Genetics!

I think me being male puts a lot of women off having photos taken wearing only their undies.  Or even less!  But there is really no need to let that affect you.  I am a man for the same reason women are women.  Genetics.

To me photography is a hobby, a passion and a career and I get just as excited about a baby, a wedding or a stunning sunset as I do a lady in lingerie.  The fact that I'm a man and she's a woman is just a coincidence of chromosomes.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the concerns, but they are not necessary.  Setting up as a photographer is a bit of a long-winded and expensive way to see what I can see for free on the internet!  It's my job and I approach it with complete professionalism.

So if you were thinking of having some boudoir photos or a maternity shoot then please don't let that Y chromosome put you off!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Do You Get What You Pay For?

I think you probably do.  People often ask me why it costs £950 just for a wedding album.  And my answer is it doesn't!  It costs £950 for a wedding album, 50 thank you cards, a proof book and about 20 hours of my time, either before during or after a wedding.

There are photographers out there who will do a wedding for £250 including an album.  I would advise caution.  I can't buy an album for less than £250 from my supplier.  That's because his product is of excellent quality and is only available to professional photographers.  That is to protect professionals so we can still make a living from it!  It also shows off good quality photos in the best way possible.  It is very likely that the £250 photographer has got his album from an online site available to anyone.  The photos may be great, but the album quality is likely to be far inferior.

And also beware of photographers who guarantee at least 800 pictures, all on a disc, for just £500. If this is what you're after, insist on seeing all 800 pictures from a real wedding.  Don't just settle for his portfolio shots.  They are by definition his best.  See how many of the 800 pictures you would actually want to look at again.  I bet it isn't 800!

Which brings me onto my final point.  Do you really want to miss out on an album to save some money?  I understand that times are very hard at the moment, but think about your holiday photos.  You get home, download them onto a computer, maybe stick some on Facebook and then never look at them again.  If you just have photos on a disc the same thing happens.  Your mum comes round and wants to see your pictures and you say, "just let me login to Facebook" and you huddle round a small screen and look at your pictures with your friends' comment underneath and a load of adverts down the side.  How much nicer would it be to be able to hand over you personalised, hand made wedding album for her to browse through at her leisure?  It is a unique, stunning, beautiful reminder of a time in your life that only lasted a single day.

If you're on a budget you have to have what you can afford, but think carefully about which areas you want to cut back on.  And then get in touch!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Onwards and upwards...!

It has been, shall we say, not the best start to a year I've ever had!  It actually started just before Christmas with what I though was a chest infection leaving me very short of breath all of the time.  More on that later though...

January has been very quiet for me.  It's my first proper January so I didn't really know what to expect.  I thought it might be quiet but not this quiet!  It's been tough to be honest.  February is looking better and then there's Mother's Day in April so March should pick up a bit...  I hope!

The next worry was all about my new premises.  I am mega excited about having my own studio in Grimsby (if a little terrified at the same time) and was all geared up to be in during February.  Well, the Council have put a stop to that little plan!  It's still going ahead but the planning application process I have to go through to change the use is incredible.  The most complicated form I've ever seen and more scale drawings than you could shake a stick at (if stick shaking floats your boat).  And it's not cheap either!  And to top it off they gave me and my new landlord 2 different bits of conflicting advice meaning the 8 week process has been delayed by a further 4 weeks!  It's become a bit of a personal rant, but I would have thought they would be making it as easy as possible to get businesses into premises on a road with 40% of the shops closed!  And breathe...

And last but not least: last week I was diagnosed with a blood clot above my left knee!  No idea how I got it or even how long it's been there, but I am now having clexane injections in my stomach and warfarin tablets every day for the next 6 months.  And the best bit is the shortness of breath I had before Christmas could very well have been a pulmonary embolism!  Woohoo!

But let's not dwell on the negatives...  After all, a problem is just an opportunity in disguise!  At least I now know that January will be a quiet month so can plan for it next year.  My move will happen at some point and it will be amazing!  (Watch this space for a big opening party...)  And I caught the clot before anything really bad happened.  So not such a bad start really.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Why Bother Blogging?

Not sure really...  Someone said I should so I have.

Well that's how it started.  From a publicity point of view it's great.  It's another way for people to find me on the internet which is a big bonus.  It also gives me opportunity to get good links to my website that helps with Google.  Links like wedding photographer in Lincolnshire and portrait photographer in Grimsby really do wonders for my rankings. And yes that was a blatant plug!  It also helps my studio to rent in Grimsby as well...

But it's also quite therapeutic.   I don't keep a diary or journal and this is a good way to get things down.  I quite like taking a few minutes out of a week to sit and write stuff down.  Yes it helps the business but I also quite enjoy it.

So if you're reading this and haven't got a blog.  Get one!