Building Businesses with Branding
Yes, things are winding down now, but it’s been a busy month or two.
I’ve worked on some fab branding shoots – taking advantage of the beautiful autumn/winter light as well as some stunning locations.
First I’m going to tell you about Naomi Evans. Naomi is a family law solicitor in Milton Keynes, she’s been helping couples and families through difficult situations for years now and those who have worked with her consistently feedback how grateful they are for her empathy, understanding and care. We shot Naomi’s branding photographs, in my studio, creating images of her which inspire confidence, showing her professionalism as well as her care and approachability.
My next Corporate Branding shoot, however, was at the gorgeous Stoneleigh House Boutique Hotel in Buckingham. And yes, they provide Afternoon Tea and have a wonderful festive menu at the moment. Working in such a beautiful environment was ideal for my client, Natali Williams of Lime Virtual Business Support. Natali is bright, bubbly, relaxed and capable, she obviously wanted her images to reflect that. Having a light bright and professional space for the photographs meant Natali got the perfect pictures to support her business.
Looking back at the fantastic clients I’ve worked with this year, has given me the opportunity to think about why those people choose me – and often keep coming back. I think it’s got a lot to do with my adaptive style, because it’s not about me it’s about them.
My photographs may have a consistent style in some respects – which is great because people have an idea what they’ll get from the shoot. But each collection I send out is different – you may think that’s obvious, but it’s not. It’s not just the people who are different, each shot will always be led by you. You are the focus of the shoot; your personality is what makes the image work.
In fact, this may be seen most clearly with some of the returning clients I have. And in November I had a really special job working with a family who I first shot 17 years ago – the girls have gone from babies to adults, it’s such a pleasure to help the family savour those memories. And make new ones.
December’s top tip:
This one’s a little niche as this time I’m looking out – not for you amateur, home photographers – but for those of you who are looking to build your own photography business.
When setting up your own photography studio there are certain things you need; obviously you need cameras, there’s also lights and backdrops and lots of other exciting equipment. Well, if this is something you are looking at, my tip this month is – get a Gareth.
Gareth and Sheila Phillips are always there for me ready to make things work. They run LuxS, providing me with backdrops, lighting and advice when I’m not sure quite what I need (I needed a Badger apparently – the filler light of champions!).
If you’re thinking of setting up a studio, find yourself a LuxS – well, the LuxS really.
Two last things before I go, it’s probably a bit late for last minute Christmas presents; so bookmark Vivid Violet to get you through the disappointment of not receiving the gift you wanted. These amazing handmade bags and accessories are gorgeous and so well made I think I actually made happy noises when I saw my delivery. Check out the range and make yourself a list!
I’m going to go a little quiet now until February...
January is always my 'thinking' month, a time to reflect and look ahead, taking in the past year and planning for what’s to come.
I need this time, it’s time for family – and frankly it’s time for me. I’m going to make the most of it.
So, here’s to 2021 – whatever that brings! Blog wise I’ll probably see you in February, keep in touch - I will be working - just less vocally!
Image and Reflections
Well we’ve made it to November and we’re keeping going – let’s enjoy Autumn while it’s here!
At this time of year I’m always busy doing nursery shoots – I love them! And this year, although it’s been different, it’s been just as much fun. Because of restrictions, these shoots have been mostly happening outdoors - and who doesn’t love it when little ones get out in wellies and warm stuff, kicking the leaves about?
If your small person didn’t get their usual school or nursery shoot this year and you don’t want to miss that annual marker of their growth, maybe you’d like to do your own location shoot in this gorgeous Autumn light. Or get your nursery or primary school to book me for next year!
And, while we’re talking about Autumn light, isn’t it amazing. The golden hours have moved to times we can manage – currently around 8am and 3pm – meaning getting out at the right time is much easier. Just be careful with shadows, they may be darker than you think and the weather really affects that light. Be ready to rethink your timings.
I may well have experienced my favourite job ever in October – if you’ve worked with me before, think of this more as a challenge than a criticism.
Working with a client looking to do some eclectic and exciting branding shots in varied locations, we certainly managed that. We started off with some bright, contemporary, industrial shots at the Icon Centre in Northants, a fantastic building with a variety of spaces which worked beautifully.
This was followed by a complete change of pace at the stunning Fawsley Hall, using the Tudor Great Hall to bring some opulence to our shoot. The contrast for the product shoot worked brilliantly (and so did having Mo available for our refreshment needs - amazing service), then the afternoon tea which finished the shoot was perfection!
In fact, if you want to get onto my list of – best jobs ever – afternoon tea may be the way to do that. Just a suggestion.
We’ve been having a lot of fun with mini photo shoots in the last couple of months, the Christmas ones are finished now but if you want to get your bubble together outdoors we can still arrange outdoor sessions for after lockdown. I’m also planning some new things for 2021, you’ll have to wait and see.
So, who’s thinking about Christmas gifts? Maybe you’re thinking about a print or product from a previous shoot, get in touch to find out what’s available and when to order – those special memories make amazing presents. You might also consider gift vouchers, helping those you love to make some great memories in 2021.
And what about those who are working to build their business? Maybe you could treat someone to a headshot shoot – it’s a great way for a growing business to celebrate a New Year.
November’s top tip:
Let’s finish off with this month’s top tip – and for once I’m following the rules.
I’m not someone who follows rules without question, there are often good reasons to test those boundaries and even break some rules. But, there is one rule which I very rarely broach – the rule of thirds.
Imagine a 3 x 3 grid on the image you’re taking (you may not have to imagine, some cameras have the option to include it on your display). Your eye will be drawn to the intersections of these lines and these lines provide the right balance when framing your picture.
Make sure then, you include points of interest on these lines or at these points of intersection, to draw people in. This may be having the horizon across a horizontal line, a tree or building on the vertical or one of your objects of interest at the intersection – play about to see how this can work for you.
Well, things keep changing for all of us, November isn’t looking to be what I expected and who knows what we’ll see in December, but I’m glad that I’m sharing this space with you.
Talk soon, L.
People, Property and Products
Hello again, it’s great to see you visiting the blog – I hope you’re keeping well, I always mean that and right now more so than ever!
I’ve had a very busy few months and, do you know what, I’ve been loving it.
During August I was visited by some wonderful clients looking to create memories with their families in our Studio Photoshoots.
Before the shoot we always discuss what the family wants and talk about the importance of creating images which reflect them, which they’ll love. I often encourage people to bring things from home, objects or props which mean something to them or will help them create the picture they’re looking for. Having objects with us in the studio can help to create your space and your moment as well as helping me find out more about you.
One particular visitor did surprise me though. When the Land Rover pulled up outside the studio that wasn’t unusual, but when the driver opened the passenger door and I saw an armchair perched on top of an elderly mother (who was very happy I might add) I was taken aback for a moment and did have a good giggle at it. It didn’t take long to get everyone – and everything – into the studio and the resulting photographs were a triumph. It just shows, if it’s important to you, it’s worth including in the shot!
Doing such amazing shoots in the studio this season, got me thinking about why I do what I do. Everyone who comes into my studio is an individual – even in a family shoot, each person will be looking for different things from the experience (some of the teenagers are just looking forward to the end of it, but do you know what they're my speciality and always seem to end up wanting to join in more).
And, this is why each photoshoot I do is different.
My response to each person who walks into the studio will be unique and focused on capturing them in a moment. I work to understand what you want reflected from the session, how you will remember it. Only once I’ve recognised the quality you want captured; can I create your images for you. And each of these photographs will be special.
I’ve also been fortunate to work with some great businesses over the summer including using the studio for Product Photography – beard stencils and washable baby wipes. Who’d have thought it!
And then there’s been the Business Portrait Shoots and Headshots. Lucienne Shakir http://luciennecoaching.com/ is a life coach, helping female executives have a life to love – and I loved helping her create images which will support her in her business and a new website launch in November, she's definitely one to watch. Keeping with the ladies I also photographed Caroline Vooght from @CVbynameCVbynature (on facebook) and what a great response to the covid worries she's had, she writes amazing CV's and is having great success getting people in to roles they deserve.
Summer has also seen my Property Photoshoots continue at a pace. Russell&Butler have been incredibly busy with both property sales and lettings, working with them is such a great opportunity for me. Obviously, I’m happy to be working with a company who appreciates the value of my professional images, but more than that they provide such great value to those clients whose property they are managing. It’s a fantastic team to work with.
Looking forward, as the seasons are indeed changing, I know that some of you will be thinking about the annual tradition of school photographs. Because of new restrictions and the complexity of managing these rules within schools and nurseries, a number of you won’t be getting your official photo for 2020. If you want to make sure you don’t miss out – or if you just want to make sure you get the right shot – I’ll be offering studio shots for your child at a special price this year. Keep an eye out on social media to make sure you don’t miss out or email/call.
September’s top tip:
We’ll finish off with the top tip for this month – and it’s for those of you who are worried about lengthening shadows.
When you can’t find the right lighting for your shot, find something which reflects the light you do have to eliminate unwanted shadows. Whether you’re outside and unable to control the elements, or in a photobooth and struggling with a shaded face, a lightly reflecting surface can make all the difference. A piece of white card, paper or even a carrier bag, can be used to reflect light (normally up) pushing those shadows away.
Don’t let the darker days spoil your photos, if the light isn’t where you want it to be – reflect it! And do let me know how you get on.
Well, back again so quickly.
It’s like time is following it’s own pattern right now, some weeks are flying quicker than Concorde (remember that!) while through others I feel like I’m struggling along on a unicycle (I don't remember those!!). Nevermind, I’m not going to mention a new normal as I’m not sure normal has ever really featured here anyway.
Property work has EXPLODED! I’ve had so many jobs for Russell and Butler estate agents, it’s exciting to see things selling so quickly and lettings have been equally busy. I love how Russell and Butler have realised the value of professional photography, it saves them so much time and the resulting images really stand out compared to other agents online. I also brushed up some rusty skills to create a floorplan for them – something I trained to do in a past life – it can be fun renewing not-yet-forgotten skills but I’m in no rush to add these to my price list.
The studio reopened on June 15th - but I'm taking it slowly. I've got some work to do to clearing props away, so I’m having some carpentry done by LJC carpentry from Akeley - hopefully that will get me sorted.
This weekend I have around 40 baby bottles to photograph as packshots. I'm SOOO looking forward to my alone time in the studio and am already planning the playlist. I have eclectic taste so it could be anything from Buddy Holly to Red Hot Chilli Peppers, or maybe a bit of Rachmaninoff might be on!
I’ve been getting some location shoots booked in too – there are some beautiful spots locally where socially distancing won’t be a problem! I visited Long Furlong Farm in Northants, it’s great to add such a stunning venue to my list. Are there any venues you’ve visited in Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire or Oxfordshire in over the last year or two which I should explore?
I’m sad to be saying goodbye to one of my American clients as they leave their UK base this month, we're doing a shoot at Evenley to provide a perfect ending – let’s just hope the weather is on our side. (update - it was!! see blog shot)
The new website is well underway, with quite a different look than you'll be used to from me. Of course, I’m picking lots of new images to include so I can show you everything I’m working on. So excited!
June’s top tip:
Back up your images! Better yet - print them as well.
We're all guilty of it, we assume the magic cloud is looking after everything but is it?
We often set up our phone settings to sweep our photos straight into the cloud, but with actual cameras – compacts and upwards - we have a tendency to copy the memory stick to the laptop and forget about it. I use an Apollo hard drive as well as a separate Apple hard drive AND iCloud backup. But then it's my job so...
Now that your photographs are safe, you could leave them there on your hard drive collecting digital dust – but that’s not what photos are for.
Every year I pick my favourite phone shots and make a yearbook with Chatbooks, they have amazing customer support and having a physical book to flick through always brings a smile. With my own family pro-shots - I'm ruthless! I pick my favourites and print them onto wall pieces. It's a great way of ‘Quality Controlling’ the products my clients buy – what better excuse do I need. And, one of my lovely suppliers has just added aluminium to his printing skills, I NEED one. I'll get a studio sample too, so you’ll have to come in and see it! 🙂
That’s your challenge then, dig out your camera and see what’s been left on the memory card – I wonder who’ll find lost photos of a forgotten party or day trip. And when they’re all backed up, maybe you’ll put together a photobook from those newly restored memories – I’d love to see what you find.
Writing these blogs is a great opportunity for me to review what’s been happening here at LC Photography. I’m finding that even when I feel like things have been quiet and uneventful, a quick look at my diary for the month can show a very different reality.
I’d originally thought there wasn’t much to say this month - I’ve been working on my website (so exciting) and catching up on admin, trying to get on the top of my to-do list (I will get there one day!) But it turns out this is only a small part of what’s been going on.
There’s been lots of networking this month – I’ve been visiting new groups and making new connections – these meetings are great as telling people about my business gives me a great opportunity to think about what I love about it and what I can do to reach more people. I have some exciting things planned for a post-lockdown 'comeback' including professional headshots with make-up and hair included on the day. I think this sounds like great fun – what do you think?
Earlier on in the year, I was able to spend some time with the friendly and helpful team at Arnold Thomson – a solicitor with offices in Towcester and Market Harborough. Producing the photographs for their new website was great and I’m thrilled to see the website has been launched this month here. This website photography gave me an opportunity to work with Space Five Creative who produced the site, I found them a very impressive company and worth checking out. Looking at the site now has reminded me of the importance of the input I get from my clients, from the team at Arnold Thomson I was given a very clear directive which really helps ensure we produce images that make everyone happy.
May also brought the exciting prospect of being able to get back to property photography (obviously only where it's safe to do so). I’ve never been so excited to get a job in and it made me think, if property owners are ready to get their properties back onto listing sites like Airbnb and Booking.com, maybe it’s not ridiculous to be thinking about holidays!
I’ve been doing some interesting bits and pieces with an advertising company lately. They want to ensure their advertising is unique and stands out so we’ve created templates into which they can drop their artwork with the images I created meaning their advertising is ready to go. If you are interested in using bespoke photography for your advertising, why don’t you see if I could help. And this leads me nicely into my top tip...
Take a different angle.
There's a big trend right now for 'flatlays' in product photography – you know the thing, a product laid flat and photographed from above. I remember when I started my photography work 18 years ago, taking pictures of children looking up from the floor was a new thing – 18 years ago! It’s funny how these things come around.
When taking your own photos, consider getting your subject – whether it’s a child, a pet or a product - outside on a cloudy day, taking the photograph down on them from above. Make sure you get completely level with the object of your picture and shoot straight down. You need to be careful not to block the light source, and may need to move around to achieve this as it's not always obvious where it is on a cloudy day. So, that’s my tip for creating your own flatlay, I’d love to see yours – do share your images with me...
Let’s finish off with some personal stuff.
Although I’m not vegan, I’ve been really enjoying plantyou on Instagram, there are some really easy recipes - and a lot are non-bake which suits my impulsive side. Home schooling the youngest has fitted in surprising well to my workday, although I did get some maths wrong which was a worry as he's only 9.
No 2 child bought a house and managed to get everything through at the beginning of lockdown, unfortunately that means I have to wait to see it but in the meantime he can make use of his impressive DIY skills before we visit. Child No 1 is staying with me along with his Croatian girlfriend who is stuck here, it’s great for us though as we love her and I’m thoroughly enjoying the girly chat. No 3 is being incredibly motivated and adding to her university application points (UCAS) by doing an online ECDL qualification, there’s a link here for any upper sixth people or parents who may be interested ECDL.co.uk. We're not sure if they will add to her overall points but it shows willing!
So really there’s been a bit more going on this month than I initally thought and I’m loving being able to share good news with you. I hope you are enjoying the positives in your world too, let me know how you’re getting on and I’d particularly love to see any flatlays or other examples of overhead photographs you try this month.