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Catherine Connor - Speakers' Corner - part 1 of 1

by Catherine Connor Published 01/11/2009

We don't believe there's ever been a speaker line-up quite like this before at any photo convention - anywhere. At the pioneering eight-day long 2011 gathering, our broad church of professional and aspirational photographer visitors will have a truly enormous choice of seminars to be delivered by 100 top-rated experts from across the globe. (We just wanted to make quite sure we had covered every subject under the imaging sun!)

Of course it would be impossible to produce personal profiles for every single speaker given obvious Imagemaker pagination restrictions, so we've drawn some of these key names out of the hat to give you an exclusive 'cross-section' profile snapshot. We asked them all similar questions - and here's the result.

Imagemaker: Tell us a little about your background.

CC: My skill sets are in business development and marketing and I am the founder of Annabel Williams' Contemporary Photographic Training (CPT). In an act of pure liberation I stepped away from the world of corporate management with Wella GB to launch CPT alongside Annabel.

Nine years ago I headed the Fujifilm Envisage programme, designed to prepare everyone within the photographic industry for the birth of digital photography today.

Our mission now is to help shape the photographic industry as it continues to evolve.

I am also co-author on a series of best-selling photographic books and I regularly contribute features and blog material for the photographic press.

Last year I chaired Cumbria Women in Business - an organisation to which I dedicate a good deal of time and energy.

The problem with professional photographers today is…

One of the greatest challenges so many photographers face is time management. As a business development coach I invest time in showing others how to manage a business, its growth and future direction, without losing sight of the existing product or service. All in business have to invest time in the actual running of the enterprise whilst steering it in the right direction for the future. This can be difficult for many creative thinkers as at the core of most photographers, is a passion for photography - not business administration.

I think that the problem is not with the photographers themselves but how many have run businesses previously. We are in very different times where banks and investors all see being in business in a very different way than perhaps they did only 18 months ago.

Are you excited by the evolution of imaging?

Very excited. Due to advances in technology more and more is available to the average person. When you examine the business activity across the UK there is actually as much growth being achieved, as there are businesses facing challenges.

We might have to market more, think smarter, fish on a different side of the boat and monitor the business performance much more closely, all of which is essential when margins are tight.

I feel that the future will be very different as I can see photography changing again. New trends are emerging and shoots are about to become very fashionable again.

Is it getting harder or easier to make a decent living?

For many the changes in the marketplace came as a welcome wake-up call. We all witnessed businesses making massive job cuts, redundancies and high-street sales plummeting - the upshot of which was actually productivity from those who did not want to follow in their footsteps. Many saw this as a sign to make changes, get in shape and take nothing for granted.

This is an interesting question, on reflection, I feel that I stretch the business and myself further in today's tougher economic climate and for me harder is perhaps not the right word, but challenging


How do you stay ahead of the game?

Market, market, market and then some more. Stick to your business values and don't lose sight of the customer. 'Loving' the customer is very important to both the team and me. We always aim to do our utmost for them, constantly looking at new ways in which we can enhance the customer service experience.

How do organisations such as The Societies help? What are the key features and benefits for you?

Gosh, big question. I feel that the organisation does a great deal for the industry, operating in the hub, bringing the like-minded together, and providing invaluable support and guidance.

Juliet and Phil contribute a huge amount to the UK marketplace through the National Convention. The friendships formed here and the knowledge that is exchanged feeds the industry.

Why is The Societies Convention such a big deal for photographers?

For me it is the best thing in the industry.

It is the best thing we do all year, I LOVE it and value every moment, from the instant that I arrive.

The line-up of speakers is exceptional and the trade event is all you need to prepare for the year ahead.

I tell everybody that I train that it is the place to be, and it is only to be missed by fools.

Your own mentors (living or dead)?

In photography I would have to name Tamara Peel - exceptional photographer with sheer dedication to her craft. She is an excellent trainer as well as photographer. She lives and breathes the industry.

Fran Monks - prepared to do everything differently and that I admire. Her values and approach to life are clear within her photography. She is truly making a mark in the worlds of both social and commercial photography.

Business mentors:

Zoe Dawes - is a fantastic coach who has given my family and I great guidance many times.

Also the network groups I operate within, most recently Common Purpose, travelling through their programme enhanced my business in particular and my viewpoint on business in general.

If you could pick just FIVE seminars (other than your own of course!) to attend at The Societies Convention whose workshops would you attend? Why?

Richard Hallsworth - my first choice as I believe his company brings a great deal to my business. I have heard him speak many times and always learn something new.

John Denton - Profit man. Respected and regarded. He has an exceptional business approach.

Michael Turner - I love networking and am always ready to hear more.

Xander Casey - I have a passion for marketing, it inspires me, would value his experience.

Lastly Stewart Randall - blogging - I admire his business - watch it a great deal. This is my list and I am going to do my utmost to see them all.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the industry?

Images of people looking more than exceptional. Beautiful images we associate with glossy magazines, air brushed, lifted - the lot!

Would you want your own children to take up the reins of your empire?

Yes. My stepson has the personality and ability, and he is a natural businessman. When he discovers how to plan a day and utilise an opportunity he will be more than brilliant.

Your plans for the next five years?


To bring photography to the consumer, create a desirable brand to suit all, from teenager through to grandparent - to become a household name.
To educate the mass market as to the joy of photography - how simple it can be to create the most stunning images.
Meet the greater needs of those we serve with regard to the products and services that we deliver.
To be acknowledged within the industry. If there were a business award for all the marketers that support the photographic industry, I would aim to win it.


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1st Published 01/11/2009
last update 30/04/2014 16:19:35

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