KOOKIE Magazine

It was an exciting night for KOOKIE Magazine at the British Society Of Magazine Editors Awards in London….. winning LAUNCH OF THE YEAR!!

K2

Unfortunately I wasn’t at the ceremony and it was such a surprise to Vivien Jones – Editor and Co-Founder of the magazine that she didn’t manage to get any footage at the time. Apparently the front cover of KOOKIE was displayed on the huge screen as she accepted the award… I wish I’d been there to photograph it!

Viv award

CLICK HERE FOR THE INTERVIEW

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Since then I’ve done a promotional shoot for Vivien to be used in articles promoting the magazine. Keeping in style with her previous shoot and the KOOKIE vibe – simple, clean, fresh, bright, natural:

Back in 2017 when I was asked to shoot the 1st cover I was so excited, not only because it was my first ever cover shoot but because of what it was for. I love what this magazine is about, it’s fun, educational and at the same time shows girls a world of possibilities and successful female leaders and entrepeneurs that they can aspire to be.

We are now working on the 6th edition and it’s been a huge learning curve for me:

  • Working to a strict brief & time frame
  • Consistency throughout the shoots – connection with the model, lighting, edit
  • Publication requirements – resolution, colour profile etc

kookie

It’s been a privilege to be part of the KOOKIE movement empowering girls internationally and I’m excited to be part of it’s journey and see what 2019 brings!

2018 Competition Entries

During 2018 – 2019 I intend to create images for competitions. My aim is to win an award, I might as well aim for the top because that’s the only way you can get somewhere close!

Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse

March 2018 Submission

In March 2018 I entered The Society of Photographers monthly competition in the newborn category and for this I was received the Highly Commended Award.

comp

May 2018 Submission

In May 2018 I entered The Society of Photographers monthly competition in the newborn category again with this image, unfortunately no award this time.

Grow - FINAL SML

November 2018 Submission

In November 2018 I entered The Society of Photographers monthly competition in the newborn category again with this image, unfortunately no award this time.

Baby Maisie-8-Edit

Wildlife Competition

I had the extraordinary experience of a squirrel climbing up my leg recently and luckily I had my camera round my neck at the time! If I can find a wildlife competition with a category to suit I might enter this:

squirrel

KOOKIE Magazine WON!!

This isn’t an award for myself but as the front cover photographer for the magazine I was thrilled when in November 2018 it received LAUNCH OF THE YEAR at the British Society Of Magazine Editors Awards in London:

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Unfortunately I wasn’t at the ceremony to see it win, or my front cover image displayed on the huge screens as they announced the winner. BUT I’m utterly thrilled all the same and so proud of what Vivien Jones & Nicky Shortridge have achieved since the first edition this time last year.

K2

https://kookiemagazine.com/?fbclid=IwAR2NXtsjfeQp-jMOE92DUGz8HRi5WIfU4I-6cXsQp869QHf0qCfo-w5TBIg

We are now on to the 5th edition ready for Christmas and have the 6th edition in the pipeline too…… It’s very exciting on the KOOKIE front 😀

 

 

 

Alice In Wonderland Shoot

Like the Harry Potter image I created in November I’ve wanted to do an Alice in Wonderland shoot for some time. I didn’t want to just re-create a still from the movie I wanted it to either be humorous or have a hidden meaning, an emotion or perhaps a reference to problems in our society. Something that might amuse the viewer or start a conversation.

Artists have the ability to say things in their work that is sometimes too hard to be spoken, such a powerful tool in this day and age when everyone has opinion about everything. During my research I came across an interesting article on Huggingtonpost.com Artists as Activists: Pursuing Social Justice 

It features some of the artists involved in Gutfreund Cornett Art’s mission, a series of exhibitions around the U.S. tackling social injustice issues.

“There is much that is needed to be said, to make people stop, look and listen, to confront social injustice issues. Art can often say what words cannot. We want to bring powerful artwork to the general public that reflects on these issues and encourages change.” Karen Gutfreund

The artists involved have created work that addresses serious issues like wealth disparity, immigration, racism, gender and equality issues, reform of the criminal justice system, and gun violence. “Ignorance is bliss” Their intent is to start a dialogue and raise awareness of these sensitive issues.

A4A5A6

MY PLAN

The result of my research brought me to the concept of creating an image that showed the effect that mobile phones have on our youth. On the face of it, it’s not as serious as many of the issues addressed in the exhibition above. But on the other hand is it? If it’s affecting our children so much that the first thing they do when they wake up in the morning is reach for their phone and with them for the whole day and is the last thing they look at before going to sleep then how do we tackle the addiction. How will it affect them when they grow up, will they have social interaction or mental health issues and how will this affect society as a whole?

one recent study found that 99.9% of a large sample of English 15-year olds use at least one kind of digital technology every day. 

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/screen-time-and-childrens-mental-health-what-does-evidence-say

There is no confirmed medical evidence that says technology will damage our children’s health. Prolonged use will only lead to a sedentary life which is bad for our body and mind so moderation is the answer. Unfortunately technology has become an unavoidable part of our daily lives, used for gaming, shopping, banking, communication, so many things… I know myself if I ever need to find something out we just ask google!

On the other side of the debate there are also ways that technology is helping children to grow and develop in a positive way. In an article from http://www.idtech.com it suggest that:

Benefits of Technology & the Right Kind of Screen Time for Children

  • Technology allows for creativity & freedom of expression
  • Technology aids in socialization and relationship building
  • Technology allows for independence and empowerment
  • Technology improves problem solving and perseverance
  • Technology helps instill an entrepreneurial spirit
  • Technology enhances learning
  • Technology jobs are (and will be) in high demand

We are living in an exciting time with constant developments in technology and as long as it is used in moderation then it shouldn’t be a problem

 

IDEAS & RESEARCH

The concept behind my image is to address the effect that mobile phones / technology has on our youth using inspiration from Alice In Wonderland. I plan to use the scene where Alice falls down the rabbit hole, curiosity still the cause but with a mobile phone at the forefront – She’s so engrossed in using the phone she is totally oblivious to what’s going on around her. Falling down the hole .. into the unknown, will represent the future, because we don’t actually know the long-term effects of using technology in every aspect of our lives.

Alice mood board.jpg

COLOUR – STYLE BOARD 

Alice-style-board

PROPS

I don’t intend to spend any money, adopting Brooke Shaden’s approach, I will use things I have, can borrow or make.

  • Tea Set
  • Vintage chair
  • Vintage table
  • Vintage mirror
  • Mobile Phone
  • Blue & white dress
  • Drink me bottle
  • Clock
  • Books

SKETCH IDEAS

  • Falling down the rabbit hole
  • Looking at the phone
  • Taking a selfie
  • Playing a game on the phone
  • Falling down the rabbit hole head first because she’s dropped the phone
  • Sitting on a chair using the phone oblivious to the fact she’s falling down a hole

 

A2aaaaA3a

EQUIPMENT

  • Nikon D850 & Sigma Art 50mm 1.4
  • Tripod
  • Jinbei Light, Softball Diffuser, Strobe & 150cm Octobox
  • Backdrop stand & Black paper backdrop
  • Props – chair, tea set, book, phone, table & lace

THE SHOOT

I had my chosen sketch and my mood boards with me, this made it easy to pose Sophie and the props in the right place. Knowing where everything was meant to be situated still resulted in taking quite a lot of photographs because the angles and facial expressions are very rarely achieved in just one shot.

Below are the chosen images for the composite:

 

PHOTOSHOP

As this was a composite I used the same process as in my previous composites with some of the editing techniques learnt from Duczman. I won’t break down the full edit here but you can read about similar ones I’ve done HERE.

A BRIEF BREAKDOWN:

I used this leafy stone wall image in several layers to build up the background:

I then cut around the book, table, cup & saucer and added them to the image:

Alice a

The next stage was layers and layers of curves to adjust the highlights and shadows of different areas as well as Dodge & Burn and Hue/Saturation layers. Then the unnecessary highlights were removed and added as needed:

Alice edit explained sml

LAST STAGE – Lifting the shadows & running the image through the Portraiture software

FINAL IMAGE:

Alice sml

**note for the image above** something that I missed when uploading this image is that when it’s been exported something has happened to the shadows, I have the final image and on screen it doesn’t look like this. I will have to look in to what’s happened when it’s been exported.

EVALUATION:

Start to finish the edit and getting it ready for print took just over 7 hours. Probably my most difficult composite to date because in all my others there has only been one element that I have had to composite into the image but this had 5. Getting all the separate elements to work together in a composite is really difficult. The simple thing of a highlight or a shadow where it shouldn’t be can instantly make the image look wrong. I am excited to see what it’s going to look like printed, it’s very hard to see all the faults on a computer screen so you need to print it big for them to stand out. Once I’ve seen it in print and done any edits that need doing I will then send it for final print.

When I received the prints I was happy with the portraits but I feel the composite image needs further editing, the shadows under the chair are wrong, like in the image above, around the table it looks a mess, I’m really not sure what’s happened, perhaps I’ve sent the wrong file for print, because the final edit I have of this looks perfect on screen.

I have sent it off to be printed again and will add the photos of comparison when it arrives.

Harry Potter Shoot

As part of my proposal for this year one of my objectives was to create images with the intention of entering competitions. For my first entry I have chosen to create Harry Potter themed newborn image.

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http://collider.com/best-harry-potter-movies-ranked-worst-to-best/#chamber-of-secrets

The very first Harry Potter novel – The Philosophers stone was released in 1997 and since then the much-loved author J.K Rowling has since gone on to write another 6 award-winning novels. These were then made into films by Warner Bros and are famous worldwide.

Some of the very first reviews described Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as “the most imaginative debut since Roald Dahl” and “a hugely entertaining thriller” with “all the makings of a classic”.

Glowing as they were, those early reviews almost undersell the eventual success of the book and its six sequels.

The books have collectively sold more than 500 million copies, making them the best-selling series of all time — with the final four novels consecutively setting records for the fastest selling book in history.

The series has been translated into 73 languages and adapted into eight hugely popular films, as well as spurring spin-off books and films and a lucrative body of merchandise.

In the 20 years since the first novel was published, the world of Harry Potter has grown to be worth more than $25 billion.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-26/harry-potter-effect-how-seven-books-changed-childrens-publishing/8630254

Literature and films

These days there appears to be a growing amount of films that are remakes of ones done before, the first one that springs to mind is the Spiderman movies, originally a Marvel comic book which was made into it’s first American film Spider-Man in 1977 which was intended as an introduction for a weekly TV series. Sony Pictures Entertainment bought the rights to the character and released Spider-Man in 2002. Then followed Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming. It is a wonder they haven’t exhausted the characters potential but he has gone on to feature in other Marvel films such as Captain American and the Avengers Series and still to be released – Spider-man: Far From Home.

In George Bluestones Novels into Film: The Metamorphosis of Fiction into Cinema (1957) he discusses the common reaction from those who’s favourite novel has been made into a film which they describe as being ‘butchered’. It is definitely a difficult task to take a book and adapt it for film, some novels are strongly narrated from the thoughts of the characters and you get a much deeper insight into their personality which becomes the path for the story. It can tell you what a person is feeling, what something looks like or even tastes like whereas movies have to rely on visuals, action, sounds and music. With the use of CGI in films, which has been said to fill the gaps where the story lacks, there is so many ways of bringing magic and fantasy to life.

Avatar (2009), however, looked stunning, but only had enough storyline for a 21-minute episode. It should’ve been the most expensive TV series, and the plot we were presented with would fill the pilot quite nicely.

CGI should be there to enhance a narrative, not try to distract you from it or paper over a lackluster tale. All too often, the audience is underestimated: the filmmakers figuring that if they make something look pretty, the general public won’t notice the distinct lack of incident.

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/cgi-ruining-your-favorite-movies/

After watching the film Girl On The Train which I loved I spoke to my Mum telling her that she needed to watch turns out she had and hated it! Only because she’d read the book first and in her opinion the film didn’t do it justice. That appears to be a common thread with films that have come from novels, readers feel short-changed after watching the film because the have only skimmed the surface of the details that were in the book.

When it comes to the Harry Potter films, having not read the books and having nothing to compare them to I love them and was eager to create an image inspired by the films for some time. This opportunity arose when I found out that a client who had booked a newborn shoot with me was a huge fan. She was unaware that I was planning anything and I chose to do it as a surprise with the intent of using the image as a competition entry if she was happy for me to do so. Knowing how popular the films are I also hoped that by sharing a Harry Potter themed image on my website and social media it would increase my traffic.

RESEARCH

Before I started to sketch out my idea for the shot I searched the internet to find other Harry Potter style newborn images to see what had already been done before.

harry-potter-mood-board

This collection of images is from Pinterest & Google (Image references are at the end of this blog)

This gave me a good reference point when planning my image, not wanting to replicate work by another photographer, I made this mood board as inspiration but mainly to so I knew what not to do. These days it’s extremely difficult to come up with an original idea and as I’ve mentioned before the internet can be great for inspiration but it can also have the adverse effect when you feel like everything has been done before.

The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before. Neil Gaiman

The demand for themed newborn props has definitely increased over the past few years. I have noticed on sites like Etsy there is a huge selection of vendors making baby props for almost everything you can think of.

hp20

https://www.etsy.com/uk/search?q=harry+potter+newborn+props&ref=pagination&page=2

You can also buy Harry Potter Digital backgrounds, to use these you need to photograph the baby in a way that it can be added into the background with some clever Photoshop skills.

This research into the buyers market for newborn prop vendors shows that if there is an increased demand, more and more props and related items are available to buy then it seems right to assume there is an increase in photographers doing these type of themed shoots.

SKETCHES (*take a photo of my sketch)

PROPS

With the great selection of props and accessories online I could probably have bought most of the items that I needed for my image. Instead I chose to make as many of them props as I was able to so that my image would be unique. Taking inspiration from photographer and artist Kirsty Mitchell and her Wonderland series.

km

https://www.lensculture.com/articles/kirsty-mitchell-wonderland-behind-the-scenes-video

Using her experience in fashion and costume design she created every bit of the extravagant outfits, props and scenes. The complexity of each individual image was so intricate that I can only assume that having full control of the design at every stage was so important to achieve her vision.

 

Not in any way comparable to Mitchell’s creations but inspired by her I wanted to make as many of the props as I was able to.

For the bed, I used the branches from a cherry tree that we recently chopped down in our garden, I wanted it to look like it had been made in a time where there was no fancy tools. Just simple wood cutting tools with nails and rope to hold it together with a hessian mattress.

I also made the fluffy wool blanket using a needle felting technique, I knitted the scarf, melted and stuck the candles together, printed paper with script text and then aged the letters and envelopes with coffee and teabags.

The owl, wand, headband & wrap were purchased from Etsy sellers, I could have attempted to make these as well but I ran out of time so these were bought items.

THE SHOOT

As always, with a newborn shoot you never know which way it’s going to go. You can get a baby that sleeps the whole time or on the odd occasion they have health issues like colic or reflux and they generally don’t settle at all.

During this shoot the baby girl – Maisie, slept really well…. a relief after all the preparation for this shot I’d hoped for! When I revealed the Harry Potter scene, the Mum was lost for words! Another relief for me, I was so pleased at her reaction and how eager she was for us to get the shot I had in mind. The (rough) sketches that I had done were handy to have because I was able to show her how we needed to have Maisie positioned. She was going to be wrapped and on her back so it wasn’t a complicated set up, all we needed was for her to be content in a deep sleep.

EQUIPMENT

Nikon D750 & Sigma Art 50mm 1.4

Jinbei Light and softball diffuser @ 45 degrees to the front left of the baby

 

CAMERA SETTINGS

1/250 F4 ISO 200

I usually shoot most of my newborn portraits at around F2 to achieve a nice soft fall off behind the facial features to the blurry background. For this shot I wanted to make sure I got a little bit more detail showing in the letters so I set my aperture to F4.

SOOC

 

As recommended by Duczman on the workshop I attended I purposely underexposed these shots. Making sure to preserve all the highlights with the intent to recover the shadows in Photoshop.

POST PRODUCTION

Out of these 2 images I much preferred the aerial shot of Maisie, it is more pleasing to the eye, less cluttered, better composition and she’s holding the wand which meant I could add some magic light to that. Even though I intended for her to hold the owl the wand worked just as well.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Scott Adams

PM1_9081PM1_9081-Edit

The edit consisted of removing the flaws & skin retouch then adjusting the exposure, highlights, shadows, contrast, colour, and adding light to the wand. After that I flattened the image and took it into Alien Skin (Additional editing software for Photoshop) here I used the sliders to increase the contrast and final colour adjustments.

Baby Maisie-8-Edit

 

CONCLUSION
The final edit of this is very close to how I imagined it, the only difference from my original sketch is that she’s holding the wand instead of the owl. In hindsight the wand is what stands out as the focal point and appears to be the light that illuminates her face. There is even a bright circle highlight in the tip of her nose which looks like it’s been cast from the wand. If I was to do this again I would perhaps try a different layout with the papers on the floor. The more I look at it the more they look purposely placed instead of fallen or discarded. In general I’m really pleased how this turned out, it’s never a sure thing that the baby will sleep never mind get the shot so I’m grateful for that. And I look forward to hopefully entering it into a competition, even if that just results in some constructive feedback which will help me improve my work in the future.

All images taken are copyright of myself (Suzanne Ross-Hughes | Perfect Moments Photography ) Any other images shown have been sourced from the internet and have been referenced accordingly. This blog also includes research and references to other photographers that relate to the topics discussed.

Pinterest photo references:

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/547398529692591278/,

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/469218854913180058/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/487866572123062154/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/257971884890167755/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/569986896572825786/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/327918416598843069/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/45106433752590598/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/461126449330535367/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/123145371046738311/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/499266308687676641/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/348325352423725212/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/393361348695132305/

 

 

Presentation

Presentation (TALK OVER SLIDESHOW)

Over the past 3 years I have been running my photography studio alongside studying for my Degree. My portfolio has grown and my business has had an incremential growth in clients and profit. I’m proud to be the cover photographer for the internationally seccessful KOOKIE Magazine which was launched in December 2017. A quarterly publication for young girls inspiring greatness over appearance and unrealistic values. I’m also grateful to have received a Highly Commended Award by The Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers in April this year. This Newborn Image was part of a Fine Art Triptych created for my Degree Exhibition.

In June 2018 it was time to celebrate because I was able to start paying myself a wage, it’s a token payment but if the objectives that I have set myself for this academic year work, then I hope to double that by this time next year. My returning client base has increased with continued great feedback and I’ve managed to hold my place at the top of the Google search engine when looking for ‘Newborn Photographer Wrexham’. Also feature on the first page when other keywords like ‘Wedding Photographer, Family Photographer’ are used.

My three main objectives for this year in Locating Practise and Practise and Application are focused on taking my business to the next level.

  • Create images for competitions – During the 1st Semester:

    – Harry Potter styled newborn image that I have been requested to do for a client. For this I will need to make and source props taking inspiration from Kirsty Mitchell and her Wonderland series to create a setting in the style of a Harry Potter scene. (Image – http://123movienews.com/2018/11/10/10-most-controversial-changes-made-to-the-story-in-the-harry-potter-movies/)

    – I will also be creating 2 Alice in Wonderland themed images | One portrait & One Composite. Inspired by artists like Brooke Shaden & Kirsty Mitchell

  • Learn how to market & sell to my ideal client
  • Increase my prices

These objectives will involve investing time and money in workshops to learn how to improve in these areas. The 4 workshops that I will attend in the first semester are:

Paulina Duczman Fine Art Portraiture (28th November 2018) – Paulina is an award winning portrait photographer so I have chosen this workshop to improve my photography & editing skills to help me create images for competitions. She will cover planning, styling, lighting, posing, getting the models connection with the camera, shooting & editing. I also need to understand the theory of portraiture and practising popular lighting techniques like Rembrandt (Imagehttps://www.dpmag.com/how-to/shooting/five-classic-lighting-recipes/) – with reference to photographers such as Paulina Duczman & Annie Leibovitz who are renowned for this style. I will also research galleries and find out which competitions and categories are best suited for my work, studying previous winners and the criteria the judges are looking for.

In Person Sales (29th November 2018) – This workshop will be held by Maggie Robinson covers how to correctly price and sell your work. Increase your average sale and sell more wall art. Having your images displayed as pieces of art in clients homes is a constant advertisement of your bespoke service and products to anyone who see it.

The Creative Newborn Studio (December 2018) – International Award Winner Julia Kelleher teaches how to hone your creativity to stand out in the Newborn Photography Market and create unique images. As newborn photography is the service that I want to promote the most, this workshop will help me to explore a more artistic approach to my photography.

Marketing Strategies for Newborn Photographers – International Award Winner Julia Kelleher covers collateral identity, branding & marketing with a purpose, booking, selling, the experience, customer service & the product. During this I will be researching how other award winning photographers who offer a bespoke portraiture price their services and look at eventualy locating myself within their price range.

These workshops not only improve my skills but they are important networking and research opportunities. By spending time with other local and international photographers it helps to keep me locate my practise in the current photography market. (Imagehttps://companyofwomen.co/networking-rules-of-engagement/)

During the Advanced Professional Practise module in the second semester and leading me into 2020 I will be looking to bring together everything I’ve learnt over these past 5 years to either set up my own photography workshops (Image – http://klashphotography.com/kelly-brown-newborn-london-workshop-newborn-baby-family-photography/) or find a role in education…. and keep following in the footseps of the masters…. always 🙂

 

2018 – 2019 Proposal

Reaching New Heights

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This year I plan to concentrate on building my business, what makes me different and finding my target market with the main objective of increasing my prices. The work I plan to make will be continuation of last year, creating bespoke portraits and building on the knowledge that I have learnt so far. I will be creating images specifically for competitions, aiming to gain awards which I can use to lift my status and justify the reason for raising my prices.

I would have liked to spend some time learning more about film, as this is another service that I would like to offer. I am interested in learning how to create short films that work alongside my photography. Particularly influenced by storyteller artists such as Ivan Monagas, his photography & videography skills blow me away and I love his videos with attention to the music, transitions and sounds:

To start focusing on videography now it would require more financial investment, education and time outside of my business, something that I don’t have any of at the moment. Running my photography business alone has increased in difficulty over the past 2 years as my client base has built. The photography is only a tiny percentage of the work, the rest is spent on editing and then around that there is the planning, meetings, admin, ordering, packaging & delivering, advertising, cleaning.. the list goes on! Work & family life is totally off-balance with having to spend on average 60-70 hours per week and not even earning minimum wage once all the studio costs, insurances etc are paid. As much as I would like to devote my time to learning something new it will be detrimental to my current situation so I have made the sensible decision to focus on the services that I currently offer and optimise those. Also, I will be looking at ways to speed up my editing workflow so that I can spend less evenings and weekends working and balance out my family time better.

During semester one I will be creating 3 images to enter into competitions such as SWPP. One will be a bespoke Harry Potter styled newborn image that I have been requested to do for a client. For this I will need to make and source props to create a setting that will look like a scene out of the films.

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http://collider.com/best-harry-potter-movies-ranked-worst-to-best/#chamber-of-secrets

I will also be creating 2 images using my children. There is several reasons that I plan to use my children, for one it means more time spent with them, something that I have very little of these days and this is affecting us all as a family so it’s important I do something to change that. Also, I have more options, I can shoot at times that are convenient to us. When relying on model calls there is a multitude of things that can get in the way of the shoot like being let down, or we don’t get the shots needed then a replacement would need to be found. At least with my children I have more options.

Inspired by films like Alice In Wonderland I will re-create stills from the movie with a contemporary twist to link them with our current modernistic lifestyles today.

I will be building on the knowledge that I learnt last year creating composite images, believable scenes with a magic or otherworldly twist. The images I want to create will be more Fine Art than Studio Portrait, to do this I will be learning how to style and edit for Fine Art as well as looking at finishes and framing that will suit my images.

In order to help me do this I have invested in several workshops for 2018/2019:

Fine Art Photography with Paulina Duczman

(28th November 2018)

Paulina Duczman – https://paulinaduczman.com/about-me/

 

IPS Sales with Maggie Robinson https://www.dinkyfeet.co.uk/ips-training

(29th November 2018)

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 11.19.58

 

The Creative Newborn Studio with Julia Kelleher

(Scheduled December 2018)

 

Marketing Strategies for Baby Photographers with Julia Kelleher

(Scheduled – January 2019)

marketing strategies for baby photographers.jpg

 

Every year I invest in extra education outside of University that is focused specifically around my business. These courses offer what I need for the objectives that I have set for this academic year. Paulina will be covering shooting and editing for Fine Art images and this is the level that I want to be creating images for competitions. What I hope to then learn from Maggie is how to sell my work, how to price it correctly and be confident in doing so. At the same time as improving my skills these workshops are important networking and research opportunities. By spending time during workshops with other local and international photographers it helps to keep me locate my practise in the current photography market.

 

 

The Art Of Strategy

Before I started to look at my business strategy I searched the internet for any helpful advice regarding photography businesses.

In an article by breathingcolor.com – 5 Keys of a successful photography business strategy I condensed the information to these main points:

  • Have a clear product/price list. Clients need a clear idea of what’s available to them and how much it costs. Time is money – your prices need to reflect everything that goes on in the background. Hard costs are easy to calculate. Investment of human time in product creation, marketing, and selling the work must also be incorporated into product price in order to operate profitably. Photographers make money when they are taking and selling pictures. Overlooking the time spent interviewing clients, editing, presenting work, post processing, retouching, printing, framing, assembling albums, updating social media and marketing easily translates into long hours for low profit. Build a team. Outsource. Focus on working profitably.
  • Quality – You have to offer a service and product that they can’t make themselves. Be the best you can, your art has to stand out and be worth the price you put on it. Key points in developing visually distinctive imagery are education and practice. Impactful presentation of visually distinctive imagery builds perceived value.

    Where and how clients see your work is integral to how they perceive the value of it.

    The higher the price, the more image marketing contributes to perceived value. For instance, one expects Costco to be cheap and Neiman Marcus, expensive. The compared visual appeal of each store is image marketing, from the brick and mortar environment to the ads placed in magazines. Develop your image marketing to reflect what you do in an appealing manner to your studio’s target market.

  • Network the target market – To attract your target market you have to know everything about them – where do they live, what’s their job, their hobbies etc. Then direct you marketing around these things. Re-marketing, look at how your competitors advertise, if it’s solely through social media then do something different like a physical mailing piece
  • Creative Implementing of incoming technologies – Stay up to date with technology updates and systems, are there any that you can use that will save you time and money.
  • Reputation for quality & service – The perfect outcome for this would be: The client enjoying the experience, feeling satisfied that they received what they expected and at a price they perceived as good value. They are looking forward to their next session with you and are eager to talk about it with family, friends and social media which could lead to more bookings.

Find ways of servicing clients that make them feel special during the time they spend with you. Follow up with a personal note, an email, a text – whatever is appropriate for your target market and be sure to include them in future advertising.

Deliver what is expected, or a little bit more, on time and in good condition.

Handle complaints promptly and in a manner that is fair to both parties. Be professional in all aspects of the business. Be ethical and honest. Never deliver a job that is less than your best.

 

MY STRATEGIC PLAN

In preparation for my proposal I have worked through these activities to build a strategic plan.

WHERE AM I NOW?

Strengths – Providing a good service, enjoyable experience and receiving consistent positive feedback, client referrals, good position in Google searches

Weaknesses – Marketing & social media, need to earn more and work less hours, offering too many services, I’m not producing the quality of work that I want to be.

Opportunities – Not aware of any opportunities at the moment

Threats – Other photographers providing the same service in the same area as me

What are my creative strengths?

  • I offer a bespoke service, open to ideas from clients and can work to a theme or brief.
  • Trained in newborn posing
  • Member of BANPAS, photography association for newborn & baby photographers
  • Experienced in Photoshop & Lightroom

Which strengths create value for my clients?

  • Bespoke photography & editing service creating unique images

Does this value translate into what I’m making?

Yes

 

What do I perceive to be my number one weakness?

Marketing to my ideal client

How can I best mitigate that weakness?

Research and get marketing advice

What other weaknesses need immediate attention in order to give my plan the best chance at success?

Focus and improve on the services that I have invested extra time and money in that I enjoy the most – Newborn & Wedding. Pricing for my ideal client and increasing my prices so that I can work fewer hours

What is the action plan for these weaknesses?

Get help with my marketing and enter competitions to try to receive awards. If I can advertise my services as ‘Award Winning’ I will be able to justify increasing my prices to the level of other local award-winning photographers. Only advertise the services that I want to be doing, try and filter out the ones I don’t enjoy.

What opportunities haven’t I considered?

  • Approaching local companies that are in the baby or wedding industry to discuss a referral scheme
  • Advertising my business (outside of social media)
  • Exposure – local papers, leaflets etc

What opportunities do my competitors seem to be capitalizing on?

  • Better exposure
  • Professional videos advertising their business
  • Referrals with other companies
  • Networking & building relationships

What are the 2 or 3 opportunities that back up my plan of action?

  • Enter competitions to try to gain an award
  • Contact local newspapers and enquire about a feature
  • Approach local companies to discuss a referral scheme

 

What are the threats to my plan?

  • That I don’t win any awards
  • More photographers locally start offering newborn photography and increase my competition
  • That I have to keep offering the services that I don’t enjoy so that I can cover my expenses – studio rent etc
  • I struggle to find clients
  • I get injured and can’t work

Out of the potential threats – what are the top 3 that could affect my business the most?

  • More photographers locally start offering newborn photography and increase my competition
  • I struggle to find clients
  • I get injured and can’t work

What is the worst case scenario?

  • I get injured and can’t work…..but hopefully that won’t happen! 😀

 

SMART

SMART objectives

Objectives for the next 12 months

  • Attend workshops to improve my photography & Photoshop skills
  • Enter competitions
  • Find ways to market my business outside of social media
  • Earn more – work less

Strategies & Tactics 

  • Attend workshops – Improve my skills. learn about fine art photography and what’s required by judges for competitions
  • Enter competitions – Look at past winners, get constructive criticism, find out what I can do to improve
  • Find ways to market my business outside of social media – local publications, galleries, Other platforms like LinkedIn, networking events
  • Earn more – work less. Try and reduce the preparation time before & editing time after shoots. Look at my packages, can I change anything to make more of a profit. Improve my IPS (In-person sales) when clients come to view their photos aim to up-sell, wall art etc. Adjust my pricing system in comparison to local photographers that offer the same service that I do.