I hope that all the days in your business are happy ones – challenging but happy. Yet, the reality is that they won’t always be. I’m not here to rain on your parade, or hold a pessimist pity party so early on in the life of your sparkly new business. But, the biggest issue that you will face with any new endeavour is how to keep the positivity going once the ‘newness’ has gone.
All things with the prefix ‘new’ are pretty great. New year, new car, new job, new house, new shoes, new friends, new clothes… that word always signals shiny iridescent hopes and glitter spangled dreams; and the chance for things to be different. But the fact remains that eventually the time comes when these things are no longer new entities or new experiences that delight you with their everyday twists and turns. Even with the work we love the most, the banal will soon start to set in and with that comes the onset – that classic curse that affects all businesses – the ‘I want to plan something new’ syndrome.
The thing about me is that I love what I do, until I don’t. Part of the curse (if you will) of having a creative mind that has to draw up ideas and solutions to client problems on a daily basis, is that every now and again I have some new crazy, mad fangled idea for my own business and I want to run with it! It probably happens to be every week – actually scratch that – every day. From complete career changes, to inspiration for projects, to insane new business plans; I have a graveyard of urls, half started tumblr blogs, and notebooks filled with scrawls and scribbles which support this brain baby overload.
There are obvious fashions in weddings just like with clothing, interiors, food and just about everything we consume. However if you want to maintain any kind of longevity in the industry is it wrong to appear to be too much of a particular trend?
I actually get asked about this quite a lot as I guess it could be perceived that I am part of the fashion for vintage toning on wedding images. Ironically, this toning is something that I started doing when I switched from shooting weddings on film to digital a couple of years ago. I have always tweaked the colour on my images, whether it was toning black & white prints or cross processing print film in the chemicals for slide film and vice versa. I like to find out how things work and then mess with them. In the 90s I worked for the experimental Blah Blah Blah magazine and the art director, Chris Ashworth, used to always prefer the images that would normally get binned. He liked to to push the boundaries of everything. At the time, I was simultaneously working for a number of teenage pop magazines so it was utterly liberating to be able to do something creative and definitely my favourite magazine to work for.
So I guess it was inevitable that when I finally embraced digital technology for shooting weddings, I would start to seek ways of messing with the colours again. I have always been passionate about old photographs and all they represent in our social history, so if Photoshop was going to give me the ability to experiment, then I was going to! I looked for ways to recreate those faded tones that old colour images have. At the same time the kinds of wedding dresses and decor items that were gaining popularity we’re also very vintage, and so suddenly it was a ‘thing’.
The week after anti bullying week, both my daughters experienced incidents of bullying at school. They are aged 7 and 4 and that Friday, we sat down at the kitchen table and discussed bullying and what we can do about it. Now they are both fairly feisty and have handled this situation well, but halfway through telling telling them ways I think they can stop this, I realised that actually they never will.
We were all looking at this as a playground issue and thinking that outside of school it doesn’t exist but of course, sadly it does. I can’t give them a magic formula that means they will never face this again because I know for a fact that they will. I am a grown up and it still happens to me. My friend Nikky who is very fabulous, very self assured and very successful in LA was there and said yes, thinking about it this also happens to her. There is a guy in her building trying to bully her right now. So I told my little girls that bullying is something that people will try to do to you your whole life and the only thing you can control is how you react to it.
It’s December – everybody is gearing up for Christmas and I mean everyone. It’s like the world stands still and gets covered in fairy lights and glitter. I love Christmas so much that we are always the first people in our street to put up our tree and I totally wind down on work so that I can make the most of this magical family time of year.
What’s important to bear in mind is that your potential clients are doing the exact same thing… Year after year I find that once the leaves start descending from the trees – from around October onwards – the enquiries seem to slow up and get a little less serious. The amount of folk wanting to negotiate on price seems to dramatically go up too and I know that I am not alone in experiencing this. It has been a hot topic in the facebook group for the photographers that have been to Photography Farm in recent weeks, and I have had emails and DMs from other photographers seeking advice on this as well. I have covered discounting before in the Green Room so this article isn’t about that. Instead I want to encourage you to see the bigger picture. I’ve been doing this a long time and I noticed this same pattern year after year. My typical year for enquiries goes a little something like this…
Jan-March: Panic Bookers for that Summer
March-Sept: Organised Bookers for the following Summer
Oct-Dec: Casual Enquiries for the following Summer
We’ve all been in situations when something work-related just hasn’t gone our way. And if it’s something you feel you have worked super hard for then it’s even worse. Gutting even. Not everything we plan for or aim towards always comes off, so how can you cope with a professional disappointment without taking it out on your loved ones or hitting the gin?
I have all kinds of mini-disappointments in my working life. From not being booked by an awesome sounding couple, to pressing publish on a blog post to a sea of silence. In general however, life is good. I work hard and most times I have happy news. All kinds of opportunities come my way and I like to think I grab them all by the short & curlies and make the best of them. I love my clients and I get to work with great photographers at Photography Farm. Plus when all the hard work from the workshop is done, we get to kick back and make use of the rockstar facilities – it’s really pretty great. I even recently went to New York because I was invited to speak for the B&H Event Space and The Blogcademy. Amazing. In between the two events we hung out and generally had a blast. Recently however, I faced a big career disappointment.
A while back I was told that I was in line for a huge worldwide industry award. I had been nominated by some pretty high up people, whose radar I had no idea I was even on. The first thing I did was call Kat to scream my news down the phone as I knew she would understand what a big deal it was. It was super early in the morning but hey… that’s what friends are for. I felt like I had won an Oscar. However when I looked into the small print for the award, it turned out I couldn’t qualify. I was sooooo totally gutted. I felt like I had been invited to Buckingham Palace thinking I was getting an OBE only to be ushered in the servant’s entrance and told I had to polish the silver.
Blogging. If you’re in the wedding industry you’ll be hard pushed to avoid it. Still a relatively new medium, the first blogs (called web-logs back then) were launched in the late 90s. The wedding industry quickly adopted this format as their own with many wedding suppliers now using a personal blog to promote their work and to connect with others in the industry as well as potential clients. There are even people (like me!) who make a full time career out of blogging.
There are currently a reported 164 million blogs in existence, so how do you make yours stand out? Is blogging even right for yomu and your business? Two UK wedding photographers battle it out…
Sassy of Assassynation Photography doesn’t have a blog, preferring to use Facebook to preview her images to her clients and fans
Photography Credit: Lisa Jane Photography
Before I start I should say that I am in no way saying that it’s bad to have a blog, but it just isn’t for me right now. I have never ever had a blog and I can’t see me getting one any time soon. For me, I just can’t see how they will add value (not just workload) to my business. I know all the reasons that people give as to why I should have one (SEO, showcasing your personality, sharing your latest work etc) and I have basically been told that I am a total idiot for not having one. It is probably even more shocking for me to be of this opinion because in my previous life I was marketing manager!
Everyone seems to think I am breaking rule number one by not having my own blog. When I launched my photography business I wrote all the content on my site. I managed the whole thing myself, and being able to update my site as much as I like (I don’t have to go through a developer or anything) I am basically able to update it as much as I want. So instead of blogging, I constantly update my gallery with new weddings. For each of the weddings that I feature in my gallery my couples write a little bit about their day. I’m also very lucky that a lot of my work gets picked up by the big UK wedding blogs (thanks bloggers, I love you guys!) from my Facebook previews or when I submit weddings directly to them. These blogs have a much higher readership than any little blog I could write. I am not a writer, nor do I have any desire to be one. I want to tell my stories through imagery, not words, and having a blog would mean people would have to listen to me prattle on *yawn*.