Keeping Track of Finances…

There are many different expenses that I will need to remember when pricing my products.  These would include:

  • Equipment
  • Insurance
  • Travel
  • Software
  • Licences
  • Website & Hosting
  • AccountingFees
  • Income Tax
  • Hours spent Photographing
  • Hours spent Editing and Finishing up products for delivery
  • Rental Gear (if required)
  • Assistants (if required)
  • Packaging and Posting (if required)
  • Print costs

In order to keep track of all of these different expenses, I will set up a spread sheet and include everything mentioned above.  To make sure that I don’t miss anything, I will need to make sure that these numbers are added frequently.  Keeping hold of receipts and money in and out will make this process a lot easier when it comes to the end of the tax year, meaning I shouldn’t miss anything out.

When looking into how to price up my products I came across a professional photographer’s blog called The Modern Tog, Jamie (the photographer and editor) gives a step-by-step guide for those of us who aren’t so great in the Mathematics department.  I advise anyone and everyone who would like any extra help to visit this page.

This really helped me decided how I should set my prices.  As I’m not able to currently purchase the spread sheet that she uses herself, I have tried to emulate it as much as possible to help me until I am able to purchase it myself.

Here is my current spread sheet that I will be using in the future.

S.W.O.T…

Strengths

My strengths are that I am a hardworking and trustworthy photographer who is easy to approach and able to hold a conversation well.   My main strength is my knowledge of photography through studying as I am currently in the second year of my Foundation Degree.

I am fairly tech-savvy, having a wide range of photographic skills including work in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, as well as working in the studio and on location.  I am able to put my clients at ease when they are in front of my camera and have been told this on many occasions.

I also own a full frame camera for high quality images and a portable studio that includes various pieces of equipment.

Weaknesses

My weaknesses would include having problems with time-keeping and punctuality, I strive for too much and this is not always available within the time frames allocated, meaning I can end up rushing to meet deadlines.

I struggle with tracking money and saving it, which would lead to problems when acquiring a studio space, which is something that is also a weakness.

Currently, I have a lack of funds and lack of reputation.

Opportunities

The opportunities available to me are being able to extend my customer loyalty.  Photographing events could see me expand overseas and there are always going to be weddings, portraits and stories to document.

I can get my images noticed, as well as earning a little extra money, through stock photography and I can incorporate videography as I have a little experience in this field.

Threats

There are a lot of competitors around my local and surrounding areas, this means there is a flooded market and I will have to really push myself to get noticed against the rest.

The improvement on phone cameras means that more people are claiming to be ‘professional’ but are not producing images of a professional standard.  I will need to educate my clients in why I am the best choice for them and why they should choose me over a cheaper photographer.  This will mean I will find it harder to keep my prices affordable and of high quality.

Market Research…

Weddings:

When looking into setting my prices, I found that there are a lot more competitors in and around my area than I had previously thought.  Most of them specialize in just wedding photography, so their prices are set somewhere between £1000 and £2000.  As I lack as much experience in this field as they do, I will need to look into pricing myself at a cheaper rate; however I don’t want to undervalue myself and I want people to feel confident in my work by showing that I am also confident in my work.

Most wedding photographers offer packages, these can range from a ‘standard’ package to ‘premium’ or ‘deluxe’ packages.  Different photographers offer different time frames for shooting, the ones I have looked at have included anywhere between 6 and 10 hours from bridal prep to the cutting of the cake or the first dance.  The photographers that offer a shorter amount of hours also seem to offer an additional service of ‘photographer by the hour’.  I will be looking into offering just packages with the option of customization for the bride and groom to create.

Almost all packages include the same things:

  • Prints of various sizes (depending on the type of package purchased)
  • Proof albums to be able to choose the photographs they wish to print
  • Wedding album
  • CD of edited images
  • Thank you cards (depending on the type of package purchased)
  • Canvas prints(depending on the type of package purchased)

The packages I could offer are:

  • Package one – 8 hours of shooting (from bride/groom prep to speeches, if they didn’t want the prep they could switch this to the first dance instead), 200 images as a proof album, 1 x wall enlargement, 2 x 10”x12” prints, 1 x 30 page wedding album and 25 personalised Thank You cards
  • Package two – 8 hours shooting (same as above), 250 images as proof album, 1 x wall enlargement, 4 x 10”x12” prints, 2 x 10”x8” prints, 1 x 30 page wedding album and 35 personalised Thank You cards and an online gallery, password protected
  • Package three – 8 hours shooting (same as above), 300 images as proof album, 1 x wall enlargement, 6 x 10”x12” prints, 4 x 10”x8” prints, 1 x 30 page wedding album and 50 personalised Thank You cards, an online gallery, password protected and 1 x wall canvas/framed enlargement

At additional extra cost I can also provide:

  • Pre-ceremony photography (engagement shoot)
  • Additional prints/albums

I will always provide a ‘meet and greet’ with the client free of charge.

Portraits:

Most portrait photographers have a permanent studio space to offer portraits, family, new-borns and headshot photographs to their clients.  As I’m starting out I do not have this luxury, I am fortunate enough to own a portable studio kit which will allow me to offer my clients a studio shoot in the comfort of their own home.  This will work well for children and new-born shoots as they tend to feel more comfortable in their own environment.  I can also offer:

  • Location shoots (of mine or the families choice)
  • Headshots for actors/actresses/models
  • Band/DJ promotional photographs

Some of the photographers offering the same choices as above charge between £50 to £100 per hour and these include a limited number of images on disk or as prints.  They then go on to offer things at an additional cost including:

  • Albums
  • Canvas
  • Prints

I’d like to make the client’s experience with me simple and uncluttered by offering packages for portraits, similar to those of weddings but based on what they would most likely purchase depending on which type of shoot they have chosen:

  • A family/location/portrait shoot could include – An hourly shooting rate, a wall print, 4 x smaller prints (to be given to family members) with an additional option of an album
  • Portfolio shoot could include – An hourly rate, 6 10”x12” prints (to be given with CV to potential clients) with an additional option of a complete portfolio
  • Band/DJ promotions could include – Album work and/or design, portfolio images for posters or any other advertising purposes

Events and Documentary:

These are generally priced upon request, which will be the easiest way as no two jobs are the same, so I will also offer my services in this way.

Advertising:

Mostly I will rely on word of mouth for my advertising, it’s faster and this way people will give a verbal review to their friends/families while showing off the images I have produced for them.  I will be using business cards, which I will include upon delivery of delicately packaged products to my clients.

I will also be using social media sites including; Facecbook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, entering various competitions to get my work out there and also visiting wedding fayres.

Social Media…

There are many different ways to get my images out there to be (potentially) seen worldwide.  Photographically, I can use the following:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • 500px
  • Google+

If I were going to include video production, I could also use YouTube, this would come in handy if choosing to do a bit of stop-motion or time-lapse photography.  Currently, I am using five out of the six websites.

When looking into why social networking will benefit me, I came across a few different websites:

Forbes

Contentfac

Aabacosmallbusiness

They gave some valuable points on why using these social media sites will attract more and more people to view my images, these include:

  • Being able to reach hundreds to thousands of people all over the globe
  • Using these sites will increase my brand recognition (this will be improved by using my logo so I am easy to find)
  • It will also help in improving my brand loyalty
  • There is more chance of my work being seen by strangers due to people ‘liking’, ‘sharing’ and ‘re-tweeting’ my posts
  • It will improve the way I am able to communicate effectively and on a more personal level with my clients
  • Immediate responses to any problems or question my clients may have
  • As people tend to spend more time on the internet, this will mean that clients will be more receptive to messages
  • Finding new clients will be easier (and vice versa)
  • Most importantly – It’s mobile and free!

While I was looking into the reasons behind why social media will benefit my business, I happened across another site Fstoppers which offered specific times that people were most likely to be responsive, these were:

  • Instagram – Everyday (7am-9am and 4pm-6pm)
  • Facebook – Wednesday-Saturday (1pm-4pm – Spikes at 3pm)
  • Twitter – Wednesday-Friday (Noon-1pm and 5pm-7pm)
  • Pinterest – Saturday (6am-Noon)
  • Tumblr – Friday and Saturday (7pm-10pm)
  • Google+ – Monday-Friday (8pm-10pm)

I haven’t quite tested these times yet, but it is something on my to-do list, I will let you all know how I do.

First Steps…

I will be focusing on documentary, portraits and events within my imagery and in order to create an outstanding portfolio of images, I will be looking into offering free or discounted photo-shoots for bands and families.  For the images of bands, I will ask to photograph them while performing (this will come into both portraits and events) and to produce any album or media images for them to use.  For families, I can offer both studio and location shoots of any choice, understanding that most of this work will come around summer and Christmas.  The documentary side can happen all year round, the weather will not affect me as much as I will not be relying on other people as subjects.  I would love to eventually travel, photographing people such as remote tribes.

Previous pieces of work that I will utilize will be images containing events that I have been to; Monmouth Festival, Boomtown and local gigs.  I have also created a few band promotions for two upcoming DJs from Chepstow.  My portfolio will also consist of documentary images that I have produced of Pontypool, Chepstow and Bristol.

Making a business card…

Afternoon guys and gals,🙂 today I have been playing around with a few different business card designs and each one contains my logo, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and website details.  I started by looking into different design sources including:

Pixel Curse

Photo Jojo

Moo

Most of the business card designs that I found often contained a simple logo or image, seeing as I already have the logo designed (and kept it pretty simplistic), I decided to add a photograph of mine for the background.  I also found that most designs contained the professional details on the reverse of the card, trying to keep things as cost effective and simple as possible, I will be placing my details on the front of the card.  As I will be using an image to fill the entire background of my card, I will need to make sure that my details stand out well enough to be read by everyone.  So, I started with turning an image I had taken in London a couple of years ago, into an illustration using Photoshop, adding in my details I came up with this design:

Card_1

Although I quite like this design, it isn’t one of my favorite images and I feel I may get sick of seeing it after a while.  Proceeding to try out some different ideas by turning some of my favorite photographs into black and white to keep a simplistic theme running throughout.  These are my other three designs:

Card_2 Card_3 Card_4

I took the opacity of each image down to 95%, this meant that my details stand out, but the image doesn’t look entirely ‘wiped out’.  My final choice is to use the second design as I love that the clouds are so prominent, how the grass looks like paint strokes and the mystery of where the driftwood tree (sitting just off to the side) came from.  My details stand out from the sky well and is fairly easy to read, overall I am really happy with my choice.

Creating a Header…

I’ve been playing around with a few different ideas for the header of this blog, the obvious thing to include would be my name…Nicola C Keith, and my profession…Photography.  While looking into other people’s header designs, I noticed that they all had the same thing in common; simplicity, which means that I should probably stick to a simple design.  I found that some people had used graphics or logo’s, so naturally, I also wanted to give this a go.  I came up with a pencil drawing of my initials, scanned this in to my PC, opened it in illustrator, using the pen tool I was going to trace over my text.  However, I am terrible at free hand drawing and this made following the lines rather stressful and the final outcome was awful.  I decided to go back to step one and create another pencil drawing (using a ruler this time and on lined paper – cheating a bit), but this made the tracing in illustrator so much easier!  Using my name and profession to sit nicely underneath my newly drawn text.  This is my final logo design:

NCK LOGO FINAL

 

I used a “charcoal – soft” effect to create the outline of my initials, it adds a little more of a handmade touch to it.  It’s not “perfect”, but I’m really happy with it and it’s completely original.  Here are my header designs:

headertemplateimage1 headertemplateimage2

cropped-headertemplateimage3.jpg

 

headertemplateimage4headertemplateimage5

I created these header designs in Photoshop, playing around with the placement of the logo and my name, however, I have decided to go with the third design, as I would also like this to become my watermark and be included on any business cards etc.  I added a slight drop shadow and emboss to help make it stand out.  I have chosen this one because it isn’t too invasive and quite simplistic, the ‘NCK’ will be used as the logo that will appear on any images so this is how people will recognize my brand.  This image will also be used on all of my social networking sites; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the links will be included in the ‘about me’ section.

Career Development…

My initial plan for my career path after leaving university will be to pursue photography in many forms including:

  • Studio and location portraiture – In order to carry out studio photography, I would start by hiring a space or studio to begin with.  I currently own a portable studio (which includes 3 lights, 2 soft-boxes, 2 umbrellas, 3 backdrops and other various bits).  This will work well and be sufficient before I can afford to have permanent studio space.  Location photography would be slightly easier as long as I wouldn’t need to use external lighting, that would mean hiring a generator.
  • Documentary – For this, I would love to document anything of importance or anything that could make a difference in the world, for e.g. climate change, inequality and indifference.  Travelling would always be a bonus, I’d really enjoy the possibility of doing what Joey L does; photographing remote tribesman, it would be an incredible life experience.
  • Events – such as; weddings, gigs, festivals and birthday’s etc.  For this, I would need to set up my own business and mainly rely on word of mouth for clients.  I would love to be able to work with local musical talents, taking images of them performing as well as ‘behind the scenes’ and album covers etc.

I enjoy most aspects of photography and I don’t want to be tied to one specific genre.  I feel that the three above all work well and can possibly tie in with one another.  Here’s a few images I’ve taken since starting my Foundation Degree:

DSC05461 DSC02727 DSC_1464

NF_3

DSC03555