by Louise Beattie Published 01/11/2010
'The worst commercial error I have made to date is simply not charging enough'.
Back to the Convention
Brief personal background and years as a pro.
After A-levels I bumbled around in various jobs until I ended up working in the offshore oil industry for 15 years. I was responsible for the day to day running of the project side of the ships, logistics, shipping, customs and stores ordering.
In my mid-thirties I came across Dane Sanders' Simple Photo Minute podcast which sparked my interest in people and wedding photography. The more I found out about it, the more I enjoyed it. At this time I was also planning my own wedding and researching a lot of photographers. I realised just how exquisite wedding photography can be.
I gave up the offshore life to in July 2008 to study photography and start my business.
First camera/ photo experience.
An Olympus XA2 - quickly followed by a second hand Canon A1 at age 15 (I still have both cameras).
When I left offshore I went to college to study photography - partly to reassure myself technically and partly to give myself time to get experience. In January 2009 I went on the Realise Your Potential course at Annabel Williams CPT. This was a major turning point as I learnt so much about the business side as well as people photography. I was so impressed with course that I signed up for the AW CPT Bespoke Course the day after I got home. In addition I learnt a great deal at the 2010 SWPP Convention and have attended Jesh de Rox' Life As An Artform workshop, which was excellent, and I am booked on a Jerry Ghionis workshop in November.
I have always loved looking at beautiful images - and to be able to create images that give people great joy is a privilege.
Digital. When I started photography I used to use transparency but now for me digital is a complete 'no -brainer'. We are in a digital age and although I believe in getting a good image in camera there is so much you can now do - from putting your own stamp on an image through post processing, to the ability to market digitally through Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and so on.
Capture and output devices used
I use Nikon D700 and pro lenses. I'm looking to acquire a Nikon D3 in the not-too-distant future. Nikon, because when I first bought a DSLR the Nikons felt so much better in my hands than the Canons. I had the full Apple brainwashing about 8 years ago so it's Macs all the way for me. I like to present images to clients in Queensberry Albums and Kaleidoscope framed prints, with Box Frames, Canvases and Acrylics from One Vision. Although I am a bit of a gadget freak I have learnt not to get too hung up on tools of the trade.
Bit of detail about your own studio set-up/staffing.
I am a sole trader working from home. Portrait sessions are on location and viewings are projected in the client's home (for weddings and portraits).
Why would I (as a customer) come to you?
Good question and one which I am still struggling to define properly. I like to think of my business as 'boutique', offering a personalised service. I want my customers to feel special every step of the way so I have invested in doing that. My stationery is on cotton paper and letterpress. My envelopes are matching cotton and tissue lined; they are addressed using a blue fountain pen. I hand emboss my logo icon on the back of each envelope. My business cards are pretty special too - a triple laminate with foil blocking on the front and letterpress on the back. All this all has an impact. I also like to give little extras that clients are not expecting. It might be an Animoto slideshow which they can use on Facebook, or a fine art wedding card made using an image from their pre-wedding session. Or perhaps a small fine art print that I have chosen from their wedding and made into a 'Thank you' note that I deliver with their album.
The problem with professional photographers today is...
Possibly not thinking of themselves enough as business people.
The worst commercial error you have made to date.
Not charging enough.
How you rectified it?
I put up my prices as my confidence and self-belief developed.
The lessons learnt.
Work out your true cost of doing business. Don't look at what other photographers are charging as you do not know their circumstances or business model.
Are you excited by the evolution of imaging?
I am very excited about the future. For sure there is a lot of competition but I also believe that it has never been easier, with all the tools we now have, to market products and differentiate ourselves.
Is it getting harder or easier to make a decent living?
I am probably too new in the game to answer that question.
How do you stay ahead of the game?
I am always on the lookout for new and better ways to provide a superb service to my clients. I keep an eye on a lot of blogs, listen to a lot of audio books and I read a lot. I listen to feedback from my clients and look to see what other fast-rising businesses are doing.
How do organisations like The Societies help?
I have become a big fan of The Convention. It is a great way to meet up with industry friends from across the country. There is so much learning and inspiration available. It's a real blast!
I think the print competition / awards are also valuable as a means of measuring your standards and also to afford yourself kudos with your clients.
Why is The Convention such a big deal for photographers?
For me it is a great opportunity to spend a week with lots of other photographers, learn a lot and speak photography for ages without my husband's eyes glazing over.
I also think the Trade Show is a great way to connect with your suppliers and keep in touch with what is happening on the equipment and product fronts.
Your own mentors (living or dead)
In no particular order: Jesh de Rox for the soul and emotion in his images; Dane Sanders, as he first opened my eyes to social photography and is such a great giver and educator; Cliff Mautner and Susan Stripling for their exquisite use of light; Jerry Ghionis because his images are just amazing and he is a great teacher; Jasmine Star for the way she has developed her business in such a short time and her great use of blogging; Jane Breakell and Catherine Connor because they have taught me so much about the business side and without the things I have learned from them I would not be where I am today.
Who today is leading the way in creative social photography?
Probably a predictable answer, but I am going to say Jerry Ghionis as he creates stunning and creative images in what can appear to be the most uninspiring situations - a great lesson.
If you could pick just FIVE seminars to attend at The Convention: whose workshops would you attend?
Lisa Aldersley: she has developed a great wedding business and creates great work, and I would love to hear more about her journey to where she is now.
Becker: I love his energy and enthusiasm. I am a member of the B School that he founded which I find really informative and inspirational and I would love to hear him speak in person. A rare opportunity to hear him speak in the UK.
Gene Higa - love his work; want to learn more from him. A rare opportunity to hear him speak in the UK.
Gary Fong: there is much to learn about the business from Gary and again a rare opportunity to hear him speak in the UK.
Gordon Jovic: really admire his work and would like the opportunity to learn from him.
What do you think will be the next big thing in the industry?
I am trying to work that out!
Your plans for the next five years?
Develop my business into a 'must-have' brand; increase the quantity of work; cover more destination weddings, especially in Italy. To help and support photographers who are starting out and developing their own businesses.
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
You have 234 days until The Societies of Photographers Convention starting on Wednesday 20th January 2021