The Hub

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TIMESTAMPSloadingProfessional media hubHome/About/Search/Membership/The Hub/Blog/ContactLogin | Sign upThe HubJoin The HubAnd take your business to the next levelJoin now and get started straight away!The Hub gives photography businesses the knowledge, inspiration and support to take their business to the next level.To grow a photography business, by adding on new services and attracting new clients, you need a consistent and structured approach which focuses on making changes to the way you position and market your business and, especially relevant to today’s climate, to justify the prices you want to charge.The Hub is for photographers who want the incentive, the motivation and the right type of information to help them lay down the foundations for growth.What the programme will show youHow to get marketing quick winsStrategies to get the prices you want to chargeTactics to stand out from the competitionHow to innovate within your business to stay ahead of the gameHow to meet the needs of the evolving buying marketHow to show your clients that you can help them grow their businessEffective ways to market your business effectivelyTactics to win new clientsHow to develop new revenue streamsSupport with setting targets to help you make consistent progressStart today! email tim@eposure.comThe Hub membershipA core programme of 10 exclusive webinars & support material to help you keep focused on your growth strategy.What’s included:A rolling 10-weeky live webinar schedule – see schedule belowAccess to all previous webinar recordings, so you can listen again or catch up if you weren’t available for the live datesNotes for all webinarsPricing & quoting templatesMarketing worksheets and schedule templatesBonus webinars and information about relevant industry insights, marketing advice and tips, and photographer case studies and success storiesRegular live Q&A forums so you can get your questions answered Webinar scheduleJoin them live or listen laterEach webinar will be hosted live twice a week so you can pick the most convenient time for you. If you’re not available to listen live, you can listen to recordings on the Eposure website.Every Wednesday 12pm BSTEvery Thursday 9pm BST (1pm PDT, 4pm EDT) convert your time hereLives sessions last upto 45 mins and are followed by a live Q&A session and discussion.Creating emails that get responseRECORDING AVAILABLE hereThe anatomy of exactly how you need to construct an email that will promote your business and encourage responseWriting a blog that attracts more clients RECORDING AVAILABLE hereThe secret of how to create a blog that is designed to get more clients to understand your expertiseMaking money with TwitterWed 29th May, Thur 30th MayThe rules for adding twitter into your marketing strategy and more ways to turn it into a revenue stream from your existing clientsBuilding your marketing campaignWeds 5th June, Thur 6th JuneWhat your marketing campaign should look like and how to stay on top of it. Tips for building a database and templates to help you planIncreasing your day ratesWeds 12th June, Thur 13th JuneStrategies to help you create a photography proposition that commands a higher day rate and how to approach existing clients with increasing day rates How to make sales calls workWeds 19th June, Thur 20th JuneTactics to make sales calls easier to do and make work – well worth it because the photographers that have got this nailed get much more workUsing Linked in effectivelyWeds 26th June, Thur 27th JuneHow to use linked in to find a bigger, more targeted audience for your businessAdding new products into your business to increase revenue streams Weds 3rd July, Thur 4th JulyWhy you need to keep your business fresh in today’s climate and ideas to help you do itCopyright in today’s climateWeds 10th July, Thur 11th JulyHow opinions on copyright are changing and how photographers can make this work in their business and client relationshipsGetting the most out of portfolio visitsWeds 17th July, Thur 18th JulyAdvice on putting your portfolio together and planning your meeting as a way to start a strong relationship with a potential clientThe CostAnnual membership £75 +VAT ($140 USD)Annual membership plus 60 minute 1-2-1 kick start consultation £150 +VAT ($270 USD inc Taxes)Once you have signed up and completed your payment we will send you the following:Full details for the above webinar schedule so you can sign up for the sessionsYour password and access details to view videos on Eposure’s site, where you have unlimited access to webinar recordingsA weekly email letting you know what webinars are happening that week and what extra bonus webinars are available to view on the video channelGET STARTED TODAY!You can join The Hub any time. To join email tim@eposure.com and we will send you an invoice by return. Once payment is sent, you will receive all the webinar sign-up details and your video channel password. From then on we will email you once a week to keep you up to date with that week’s events.Are you ready to move up to the next level?JOIN TODAY email tim@eposure.com to get started! Terms & conditionsThis payment gives you access to all exclusive Hub content for a period of 12 months, Eposure are not able to offer access to part of this schedule at a reduced rate. You do not have to be a member of Eposure to join this programme and photographers outside of the UK are very welcome to join. To pay in different currencies than the ones shown please contact tim@eposure.com Once you have paid and have received your password details for the video channel, you are unable to cancel your membership and will not be entitled to any refund. Payments are made via paypal to Digital Creative Communities (DCC) which is the holding company of Eposure. As a member of this programme you are agreeing to being placed on Eposure’s mailing list so we can keep you up to date with the programme details. We never share any of your data with 3rd party businesses. For further details on Eposures terms & conditions please refer to the main site. For any queries or more information, contact gabrielle@eposure.com For more information about how we can work with you, please contact the eposure team:For production, logistics and studio requests, please contact tim@eposure.comTo discuss photography as part of your marketing assets, please contact gabrielle@eposure.comAbout TimTim has set up and run several of the biggest photographic studios including studios in both the UK and overseas, and has produced photography for many well-known, blue chip brands. The studios he’s worked with include 490 Global, Hangar Seven, Tesco’s in-house studio, and more recently McCann Manchester’s studio, Pyx. He has managed the production of photography for many household brands, including Tesco, B&Q, Homebase, Fired Earth, John Lewis, Bathstore, Pets at Home and DF. Tim also specialises in high volume photography production. About GabrielleGabrielle has worked in the advertising, marketing industry for over 18 years, working for many of the UK’s top brands, such as Office Depot, Aldi, The Co-operative, Thompson Holidays & Sainsbury’s Bank. The last 8 years have seen her specialise in advising clients in their use of photography in their marketing communications. She has advised clients such as Viking, Pets at Home, George (Asda), B&Q and DFS. Latest TweetMember AgreementCookies PolicyUser AgreementAcceptable Use© 2013 Eposure, All Rights Reserved.Mail UsG+ UsView UsLike UsFollow UsEposure is a division of Digital Creative Communities, The Sharp Project, Oldham Road, Manchester M40 5BJWebsite by Project:Simply

The emotional detachment of a camera

Eposure member David Vaaknin tells his story of his photojournalism, and why knowing your subject and the things relevant to them as well as gaining people’s trust and the support from home, are important in his work.

Eposure: You’ve worked mostly in reportage/documentary/photojournalism/editorial photography. How did you start out?

DV: “I started to take pictures back in 2002 while traveling across the U.S. and South America, it was just a hobby back then, and frankly, I did not have a clue about photography. I bought a film camera and some books about photography, and pretty soon I was drawn in by the subject.

When I got back to Israel I started taking photos for an Israeli news website and went on to shoot for ‘Israel Hayom’ a daily newspaper. I think news was always one of my interests and certainly a lot happens in Israel at almost any given time. It is never boring there. Perhaps photojournalism is just my way to feel like I’m a part of what’s going on.”

Eposure: In your editorial work on your site you’ve encapsulated the subject, their feelings and its context. With emotion running so high around you, how do you keep focussed on capturing the moment?

DV: “It is always difficult shooting sad or bad things, especially funerals and things related to terror attacks. Unfortunately these things can occur on a daily basis in Israel. I think there are three things that help me in these situations or situations similar. Firstly, as any photojournalist will probably tell you, being behind the camera gives you the extra space and the emotional detachment, and it also helps to focus on the work itself, meaning getting the shot and not contemplating on the situation you’re witnessing too much while you’re there. Secondly, being attentive to your subjects and to the environment you’re in, knowing when not to take the picture or even taking the camera out of its bag. Sometimes it is just too dangerous to take pictures and its simply protecting yourself, your gear, or both. Sometimes there is no justification to take the photo, meaning that taking a certain picture will not help the viewer’s understand the story. If it is not pertinent to the story, then I think there is no need to cause grief or sorrow to the ones you document. Thirdly, the support from my family and especially my wife helps me a lot. It is good to know in the back of your mind that you have someone back home who supports and tries to understand what you’re doing, someone that listens to your stories. I think that it’s important and helpful to tell and to think about where you’ve been and what you’ve seen after the fact.”

Eposure: You’re clearly stood amongst your subjects when photographing them – why do you think that’s important and how do you make your subjects appear unaware of your presence?

DV: “I’ll start from the last part of your question, most of the time the subjects are very aware of you and the camera(s). Today there are just so many people documenting events that it’s almost impossible to go unnoticed. In fact, a lot of events, mainly protest and riots, happen because the organizers know they’ll get a lot of coverage. However, and this is probably more relevant to news and editorial work, it is important just to be there where things happen, and when you’re there you should carefully think about when is the time to document, and when is the best time to keep a low profile. For reportage and documentary I would say you have to gain people’s trust quite a while before you even start taking pictures. That’s the key I guess.”

Eposure: You work in a lot of photojournalism, and judging by your image narrative, you’ve become knowledgeable of your subject and the scenario. As a photographer do you think it’s important and why?

DV: “It is very important to know where you are, your subjects and things relevant to them. Part of working in photojournalism is of course, knowing the journalism part, the history, and the present story. It is also very important to understand the situation or scenario, partly for your own safety but mostly because you are telling a story and there’s just no way of doing that without knowing the background, the traditions, the people involved and the actual situation as it is happening.”

For more information about David and his work please visit his website at http://www.dvphotonet.com/

The 3 things that stop your marketing from working

Here’s an extract from our recent webinar which talked about why keeping your profile high is so important in a tough economic climate, and one of the main things you can do to keep attracting new clients and photography commissions to your business.

This 5 minute video tells you what our webinar covered and also tells you the three things that commercial photographers most often get wrong, which can affect how well their profile and marketing works for them.

New December date

We’re repeating this webinar in full on Tuesday December 11th at 9:30am GMT.

The session is live, presented by Tim and myself, and includes a live Q&A session afterwards.

You can register here

What people said.

We had a great attendance for this webinar, and many photographers got in touch with us after the event to say how useful it had been for them.

Here are selections of their comments:

Many thanks, the webinar reinforced many of the things I was thinking as well as giving me a lot more to think about! Look forward to the next one.
Regards,
Heather Murdoch”

“Thank you Gabrielle and Tim,
Very much appreciated! The presentation was interesting, definitely worth to stay in touch!
Kind regards,
Marco Fazio”

“Hi GAbrielle and Tim

Got me thinking
Thank you!
Hugh Nutt”

“Hi Gabrielle
Although the seminar went over some of the marketing points you covered in our earlier conversation, the structured, more methodical method of presentation was a helpful follow-up, so it was well worth attending. The Q&A afterwards was interesting too.
Regards
Morgan”

“Hi Gabrielle & Tim,
I enjoyed your seminar. I asked you a question about connecting with people on Linkedin which you answered. There was some great content in your presentation. It is a tough market here in the San Francisco Bay Area as well and I think we sometimes get too consumed with looking for the perfect solution. Your comment that “there is no magic formula” helped me to put things back into perspective.

I plan to stick with LinkedIn and emailing as my main marketing tools with some cold calling and persistence to help.
Best
Bob Morris”

“Just wanted to say thanks for the presentation last week, I really enjoyed it and got some useful tips from it.
Thanks
Rhowena”

Taking the next steps

The recession has dragged on so long, but there are signs out there that small businesses who have been sat on their hands waiting for the corner to be turned, are starting to feel that its time to take some positive action, and we know many commercial photographers who feel the same way. And this is prudent thinking because there will be many people, in similar positions to yourself who will decide to hang on a bit longer, but the photographers who move now will be the ones who emerge stronger in the long run.

So what is your next step and how confident are you about the New Year?

We use this blog to publish articles that offer marketing and business advice that is specifically geared towards commercial photographers. Our free webinars build on this, and we know from the feedback we get from them, that they are giving you good advice, timely reminders and inspiration for a renewed focus on the important things that you need to get done to keep pushing your business forwards.

Getting to the next level

But what about when you’ve got the basics in place, or really want to take your business to the next level and gear up for a serious push in 2013? Doing that on your own, is not for the fainthearted, which is why we’ve recently added another tier of service for commercial photographers where they can work directly with the Eposure team, Gabrielle and Tim.

So, how exactly does it work?

Many photographers are already feeling the benefit of this new service, but we know there are a few more out there who are still thinking about whether it is right for them, so we wanted to give you some more specific examples of what you get if you become an Intensive or ProActive Member.

Firstly, we spend time getting to know you, your work, your experience and discuss what your big plans for your photography business are. Right from the first meeting we start to encourage you to aim high and be ambitious and work on creating plans and actions that really will raise your game.

But it’s not all talk. We balance the talk with quick fixes, things you can do immediately to get things moving. We won’t be telling you to spend even more of your money on website redesigns, mailings, rebranding etc… Instead we look at what we can do either for free, or very cheaply to build up your audience and sell your product to your audience in a better and more compelling way. And believe me, there is an awful lot you can do and that we recommend you do first, for little or no cost, that can make a big difference to your business.

One of the areas we spend a lot of time with our members on, is helping them create advertising campaigns for themselves. We write copy for and help them select the right images to create intriguing and creative email campaigns which is a great way to get results quickly.

Keeping it fresh

Another area we spend a lot of time in is looking deeper into the business and working together to develop new revenue streams. This could be by finding a new audience for your work, or helping you branch out and get a new skill added into your portfolio, such as video, or even repackaging your existing work so we can sell it in a slightly different way.

Making money from social media

Many photographers are using social media, but very few are actually using it in any organised way to make money from their clients. So we create strategies and ways of turning it into a revenue stream that links in well with your existing photography, without having to spend all day on Twitter!

Know where you are up to

We’ve created a way of working that lets you see what the long term plans are, and also see immediate progress to get things done now. After our meetings or our telephone calls, we document everything and email it to you, so you have a detailed record of what we’ve agreed and can check that we really are making progress and ticking everything off your list.

Our meetings are creative, full of ideas and inspiration, and not full of marketing jargon and marketing homework!

More ways we help

Other areas we help our members is helping them quote, or put together tenders. We look at pricing and how and where they can earn more money. We even help out with production, if they get the opportunity of a big job we are an add-on production resource for them.

Without breaking the bank

All in all, we’re proud of being able to provide such a great service for such an accessible cost. We’re confident it works, but there’s no commitment from you. You can cancel and stop the programme any time you like.

If you think you’re ready for the next level, give us a call to have a chat about you and how you want your photography business to grow in 2013.

tim@eposure.com 07815 033327
Gabrielle@eposure.com 0777 303 2602

To read some testimonials from happy members, please follow this link

http://eposure.com/blog/Eposure-Member-Testimonials

Don’t forget, Eposure is now free to join so if you are a professional commercial photographer then why not sign up? For more information please visit the membership page on the site.

Stock images versus commissioned

Many photographers face competition from clients who want to use stock images rather than commission bespoke shots. It’s easy to see why this option can be seen as a cheaper and quicker alternative to a commission. The downside is that this is a very impersonal approach to take.

I want to step away from this issue briefly, to think about marketing. Many photography commissions are to provide images for a client’s marketing campaign. Much of today’s marketing campaigns are directed into social media channels; Facebook, twitter, Google+ and so on. In all of these channels, best practice places a huge emphasis on expressing personality – the human side and face of organizations, because this how these marketing succeeds and drive business – they engage with potential buyers. Another key to marketing success is for businesses to differentiate their offer; marketers need to demonstrate innovation and uniqueness.

But how can we use this analogy to make a stronger case for commissioned images?

These days it is easy to evaluate the effectiveness and sales generated by marketing channels. And there is a tendency for clients to dismiss things they don’t understand or can’t measure.

Many clients will not be able to directly measure the impact of an image, so will decide that a stock image, or a poor quality image will be good enough. Reducing the cost of photography then becomes an easy way to save money.

As photographers, we have to accept it is difficult to measure the effect of images, but we can make a case to apply the broader marketing principles (personality & uniqueness to engage customers) to justify our costs.

Remember that social media and other marketing inevitably lead potential buyers to a website. If the customer sees stock photography here, there is a risk that that genuine personality that has been created in other channels will evaporate.

We have to remember that marketers make decisions based on their customers. Customers are very astute and stock photography is obvious thanks to its lack of personality and sterility. Sites that use it heavily feel fake. As customers become increasingly demanding with the growth in the choices they have when making a purchase. They need to know and trust brands before they transact with them, and fakeness isn’t going to build trust.

Marketers who settle for stock images are missing a huge opportunity to commission something unique, personal and exclusive. Something that will resonate with their customers, tells them a story about their business, and ultimately creates an environment in which they are happy to part with their hard earned cash.

Don’t forget, Eposure is now free to join so if you are a professional commercial photographer then why not sign up? For more information please visit the membership page on the site.

Social media for photographers: Part 2

Getting the best out of social media

In our first post on social media, we looked at what social media can achieve for photographers. In this follow up post, we look at some of the major social media channels in more detail to understand what they are suited to, and how to get the best out of them.

Conditions of use!

Many people use social media and get nothing out of it. If you’re serious about using it to get more work then you need to accept these conditions:

1. Commit to a regular investment in you time to do it.

2. Commitment to investing more time in learning about how to use it.

3. Patience – it isn’t going to work over-night, but if you are consistent in your approach, you will get better and more efficient over time. Be prepared to lose faith in it sometimes, but in the end your persistence will be rewarded – one day it will just ‘click’ and that’s when you will start to get results.

4. Be pushy, make conversation and don’t neglect real conversations (remember, the phone…!) Social media is about finding the type of people you want to connect with, developing a relationship with them, and speaking to them.

Our own experience is that it takes up to 6 months to be proficient at using social media to the point where you are clear on your strategy, you know how to regulate and optimize your time on it; you understand the results you are getting, and are starting to get business from it.

What about your website

If you have a website, you have likely spent a lot of time on it, but even so, you’re probably not adding enough new and updated content to attract lots of traffic. Social media can complement your own site, and be a way to drive traffic and potential customers to it.

Keep focused on your target audience

To get new clients, remember your target audience is clients and businesses – not other photographers. Your targets may well be interested in your pictures – but only if they are directly relevant to their own business or photography needs. Remember, people take visual work very literally; if they see one of your shots which is an inspirational kitchen shot for a manufacturer, they won’t assume you know about bathrooms, or portraits or other manufacturing, for example. So without some conversation and some written content to complement this, you are not going to engage with them to the point that decide to commission you.

How the top 3 work for photographers

Facebook

Facebook is great for photographers, and for many it has become one of their key marketing channels.

The strength of Facebook from a business point of view, is that it is somewhere where people check in every day. The key to raising your profile and your personal brand is about being current and building frequency to constantly remind your target audience and network about you and what you are doing.

Getting the best out of Facebook

1. Set up a page for your business. This is very important – it strengthens your business brand image and gets round the potential problem of putting off potential clients who don’t feel it is appropriate to ‘friend’ you.

2. Create content. Of course your images are important and work well on Facebook, but add a wide range of other content to give potential clients more information about you, such as blog posts, videos, links to photography related articles, news and other work that you like.

3. Be active. Like and comment on other photographer’s work, respond to comments left on your site promptly. Keep your site up to date, and that means daily. If you are using it as a business tool, you need to show people that you are available and responsive.

Twitter

There are thousands of photographers already actively using twitter as a new business tool.

Its strength is the ability to quickly connect with thousands of targeted followers, which has many benefits:

  • Stay informed with what’s going on in your area of interest
  • Keep your followers up to date with what you are doing (brand awareness/top of mind)
  • Build relationships with your peers and potential clients
  • Drive traffic to your website/blog
  • Improve your SEO

Getting the best out of Twitter

1. Tweet regularly; your followers are watching many other tweets, so this will improve the chances of your tweets being seen

2. Use hashtags and key words to build your followers and get your tweets seen. Don’t forget to use keywords as a tool to find targeted content and new people for you to follow

3. Re-tweet and reply. Get conversations going. For twitter to work, you need to get yourself noticed by other people and your own tweets re-tweeted and to get mentions.

4. Thank people who re-tweet you or follow you. Again, give people reasons to remember you more than your competitors.

5. Provide links to your content, I.e. website, blogs. If you are regularly planning to use links as part of your tweeting strategy, consider using hootsuite or bit.ly so you can check how many people are following your links. When you start to measure them, you can refine your tweets to make them more engaging.

6. Get to know more about twitter tools. As you get more proficient, there are ways to improve the efficiency of twitter and understand what it is actually doing for you. (We’ll cover this in more detail in a future post).

7. Regularly review your followers and who you are following. Remind yourself who you are connected with and target those who are of interest by working out a way to engage with them. This could be as simple as a re-tweet, or replying to one of their tweets, asking them a question etc…

Linked in

Linked in is a business orientated social network, and very popular with Photographers. Compared to other social media, it is much easier to network with and target potential clients.

Getting the best out of Linked in

1. Spend time getting your profile page right, and make sure you use relevant and descriptive words in your job title and description. Linked-in is a good SEO tool. Check how your profile comes up when you type your name into Google and edit if necessary to make sure it is really selling your specialism.

2. Write recommendations for people you have worked with, and they will likely return the favour – testimonials work well on Linked in.

3. Get involved with groups. This is a great way to reach large volumes of targeted prospects. But you need to participate, and understand the group rules, and as always, contribute useful and engaging content. Used in the right way groups can drive significant volumes of traffic to your site.

4. Link your twitter feed and blog posts to your profile so they automatically update. Be mindful that your tweets are appropriate for twitter.

Should CGI come with a warning?

Image retouch is widely used to manipulate and enhance a commercial photograph. But when that goes further, with full CGI, where images are produced without a camera, photographer, using wire-frames and rendering, can you trust what you see? More importantly, what would the consumer think if they knew the image was a representation of a product and not the real thing?

In the early days of CGI, it was widely used by architects and builders to give a representation of a building or development. It was obviously computer generated and the end user accepted the wooden looking buildings and false looking scenery, and just went with it as a practical and effective way to show a proposed build in-situ.

But today, with the advancement of hardware, software and expertise, CGI can be used to completely replicate a still image of any scene and any product. And with prices reducing, it is becoming an attractive alternative to actual photography. It has to be said that when done well, the quality and realism can be as good as taking a photograph of the real thing, and many experienced photographers will even admit its difficult tell the difference.

CGI is used in many different ways. Used in video games gamers accept that when they are shooting aliens on a space ship, what they are seeing isn’t real, but it enhances their experience. And in movies where the action is set in a fantasy world, or there are dinosaurs roaming the landscape, it’s all fantastically realistic but the viewer is in no doubt that the special effects are computer generated.

But what happens when CGI is taken out of the entertainment context and used to replicate a product in a sales or marketing context, as part of a plan to get the customer to buy the product that has been replicated? Regardless of the quality of the CGI image, the general public won’t know or even assume that what they are looking at is actually a computer-generated image and not a real photograph.

Today, advertisers work under very strict codes of conduct, being careful not to make claims of their client’s products and brands that could be misleading. Could it be said in the use of CGI, that customers are being misled – thinking they are looking at a photograph when it is really only a digital representation of the product they are being sold? Would you as a consumer want to know if the image was a real photo, or CGI?

To be fair to the people commissioning CGI images, there isn’t a motivation to mislead or mis-sell, CGI is generally commissioned for cost or logistical reasons; it can save expensive shipments of the products needed to be shot in a room-set, or it can easily generate multiple images to show colour changes, and allow the constant updating of those images to keep up-to date with range changes.

Customers buy from brands that they trust, but images are powerful things and play a huge part in the decision making process when customers are buying from the internet, catalogues or advertisements. In the interests of those customers, there are a number of questions to be asked here:

  • Are customers really aware that CGI is used to generate ‘photographs’ that are showing products that they are being asked to buy?
  • If the consumer understood the image they were looking at was CGI, would this affect their trust in what they were seeing?
  • Should there be some industry code of practice, making consumers aware when they are looking at a CGI image?
  • Do computer generated images need some sort of watermark, highlighting the image is a CGI and not a photograph?

We will be taking this article to a number of forums. As always your comments are welcome and we will publish comments that we receive at a later date.

You must be registered and logged in to post a comment.

Say something about the photography please

We’ve just read an article about Habitat’s new ad campaign in the creative press. I don’t know if you’ve seen their new ads yet, but basically they are product images plus typography. The campaign is called ‘Say Something’ and each product is accompanied by those same words, hand-drawn in a typographical style that references each product’s styling detail.

The story centred on the typographical aspect of the new work, and whilst we could appreciate that the typography was of interest and newsworthy, it struck us that we NEVER see any coverage in the advertising, creative or marketing press that makes any detailed reference to the photographic styles that big brands are using. We were surprised that the photography, the bit that shows the customer the product Habitat want us to buy, took such a back seat compared to the other creative elements that went into making up the adverts.

Why is this?

The irony is that the success of Habitat’s campaign, and the sales it is trying to drive with it, will be equally affected by how well the product is represented visually. The heart of Habitat’s proposition was always the design detail of its product range, and it has to be said, whilst we’d rather put a positive spin on photography, there are a number of ads for this campaign which really don’t show the product in the best light. The most obvious example of this is an ad for a sofa, which is taken at an unflattering angle and shows very wrinkled fabric very clearly, with an overall effect that makes it look more like a £199 sofa you might pick up on a market, not something from Habitat – the aspirational, design-led furniture retailer who has got a lot of hard work to do to remind the general public that they still exist.

Any brand that is selling anything needs to use images of its product. I don’t know what percentage of advertising campaigns use a photographic image rather than a graphic image, but it must be at least 50:50. So when brands are press-releasing their new campaigns and their new work, why is there so seldom any mention of the photographic strategy that they have used and the importance of those images and how they contribute to the success of any advertising and marketing campaigns?

So, what could the reasons be that commercial photography gets so few column inches in the business, advertising and marketing press (apologies for the tongue in cheek answers – just trying to make a point):

  • No-one’s interested in photography?
  • There’s little appreciation or understanding of photography by the readership of the titles in these sectors?
  • The PR agencies that are sending these stories aren’t giving the media any details about the photography because they’ve not been given any by their sources?
  • Photography doesn’t have any bearing on how well any advertising or marketing creative works?
  • There is too much ‘mystery’ around the creative process behind photography, so everyone forgets there is one and so no-one talks about it?

There are many professional and amatuer photography magazines, websites, blogs and forums with high readerships and participation, so we know there is massive interest in photography. Which makes it even more perplexing that there’s virtually no crossover of news about commercial photography and it’s role in business.

We’d love to hear your opinions on this, and we’ll publish a selection of them in future blogs.

To see the Habitat images yourself; click on this link here but please come back and tell us what you think.

Don’t forget, Eposure is now free to join so if you are a professional commercial photographer then why not sign up? For more information please visit the membership page on the site.

Rob Tomlin – member profile

One of Eposure’s aims is to add words to your pictures, telling your personal stories and the stories behind your images. This adds a different and more engaging dimension for potential buyers and commissioners of photography, it helps them understand the individual behind the images, and that’s when business relationships start getting built.

Interview with Rob Tomlin

Rob when was your first memory of photography?

When I was in my upper school they had a photography club along with darkrooms. We were encouraged to use the club’s amenities towards our art exams and, even though no-one at the school had ever sat a photography exam before, I convinced the art teachers to allow me to sit for an O’ Level…and passed with a grade A.

How did you get your first break as a professional?

I went to college to do a BTEC OND in photography and then an HND. It was assumed that once graduated you would go to London to become an assistant there. Instead I came back to Manchester and joined ‘Montage Studios’ (now called ‘Refinery’) as a temporary studio assistant for eight weeks. They kept me on and gave me a full-time position as part of their ‘in-house’ training course. After only 3 months I was promoted to ‘photographer’.

What do you like about room set photography?

I like any kind of photography where I’m allowed to craft the shot, rather than just recording a scene in front of the camera. Room-sets have a particular appeal because you work as part of a team…from the initial design to the set-build and styling.

Photographers can find lighting room-sets on the scale I’ve done daunting, but it’s really quite easy once you approach lighting in a ‘realistic’ manner. I stand by the ‘make-it-look-real’ ethos and over-lighting room-sets is a way of killing the style. In the early days of my photography career “if in-doubt, stick another light on it!” was the instruction. But now things are different and more of a subtle approach is needed, and now and my advice is “Less is more”.

With CGI gaining popularity with businesses, what are the benefits of conventional photography over CGI?

I’ve seen a few CGI images that look very good and almost on a par with good photography, and I’ve seen many that are quite frankly a joke! Conventional photography will always win for a couple of simple reasons; it’s a bespoke service able to produce quality images with bespoke lighting, specific props and furnishings. And flexible to any changes made. Also, nothing matches having the actual real setting to walk about in – for real. Many of my room set assignments require not only the main set shots, but cameo and detail images, and the client really has little idea what those cameo images should look like until the physical set is built.

A final thought on CGI… it’s too crisp. One of the many advantages of conventional room-set photography is that it’s actually quite fluid and not a science! Things do change from shot to shot; images can look slightly soft, too dark or too burnt-out just like real life. CGI images can be too sharp, too clinical and when you look at them feels false and simply too perfect!

How do you use retouch and image manipulation on a room set image?

I try wherever possible to reduce the amount of postproduction trickery required on my images, but certainly on occasion it’s a necessity. The most basic is just in the correcting of walls and other parallel lines, which used to be done in camera using camera movements, but now is achieved in the camera software I shoot to. The same software can do other minor refinements to the image such as localized colour adjustments and similar corrections, before any heavy retouching required is then done in Photoshop. I usually leave it to experts and not in the hands of my minor retouching talents! Typically though, any retouching will just be tidying-up any parts of the build, maybe dropping-in a back-drop through any windows, or adding a ceiling to the set.

Apart from the obvious, how has digital photography changed the profession?

When everything was still shot on film – and in those days we shot to different sized films/formats, any retouching needed would cost a small fortune, it meant that you had to get things right first-time. I really think this ‘old school right first time’ approach is now lost with many photographers as they become ever more reliant on post-production retouching. The final image is all important and crafting the subject with light and getting as close to perfection in-camera without too much help in post is what makes me who I am.

What’s the funniest request you’ve had when taking a picture of a Room-set?

I was shooting for a plumbing company. I was doing their trade brochure and we’d built and photographed some very large sets. These were ‘commercial’ bathrooms – public toilets for hotels and sports centre changing rooms and showers. While the shoot was in progress, we decided that the changing room set should have a ‘human element’ in a cameo (but no model fee allowance in the budget). I suggested to the client the shot would require a silhouette of a person through the frosted glass. Long story short… I stepped and took off my clothes to model for the shot. Even today the client uses the picture of me stark naked, not only in the brochure full page, but also in-store. My assistant said she could see I was still wearing my boxers on the initial test shots, so I had to throw them off hoping she didn’t prank me and hide them with the rest of my clothes. (No retouching on the final image BTW, wink)

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Real stories from commercial photographers who use social media

One of the ways that eposure networks is with linked in. We use it to post our blogs and to have conversations with other commercial photographers and marketing businesses. The photography groups we are active in have over 250K members. For us, this has generated some great contacts and business, and lots of valuable information relevant to our market and our site marketing. It also drives a great deal of traffic to our site.

We recently posted a couple of articles on social media, and this is a selection of the comments that we received from photographers and commercial photography businesses about their own attitudes and experience with social media. These are some of the responses we’ve had so far – positive and negative. We’ll post some more soon in a separate post.

Comments

I agree with all the comments. However for me, (and I tell this to the photographers we represent) the real point of all of this is “doing it” in a measured / focused way so that you’re efficient with your time and you feel the self satisfaction of the process. This must become almost like a procedure, a part of your daily or weekly working habits – not a “one off”. There’s a real value on many levels to the concept of consistency’
– Frank Meo

‘I believe it is just like anything else, the time you put into it is what you get out of it which does create a problem for the creative needing to keep producing product. After launching my website and getting on the social media route I have developed a following of people that I can contact about things that are happening. Instead of just talking with friends now you are connecting with other artists and their friends and their friends who may actually be potential buyers or know someone that would like your style. Now I have a place to broadcast with people that know me and my work.
The one key thing about social media is that people are sick of being marketed to so it shouldn’t be beating them over the head with marketing, people want to know the artist and marketing happens in relation to getting to know people instead of getting to know people to market to them. It’s all about connecting and forging real relationships with people’
– Linebaugh Steven

‘You have to be strategic about how and where you share. If you share in places where the meta data gets stripped it not only puts your imagery at risk but can be a huge waste of time; time that could be better spent making new and better images to share with people directly with whom you already have a real-life connection. When they see an amazing image they often share it directly with their work colleagues internally. That’s the best kind of social media. The ROI on your time is far higher. A bazillion “likes” of your images without your having a well-thought out strategy on how to convert those “Likes” into clients, is like spending all your time in a rocking chair..there’s motion but no forward momentum’
– Carolyn Potts

‘I agree. Creating excellent images is key, but floating a few great images onto social media can work well.
I’ve spotted several very good images ‘shared’ or posted on FB or just google images, and look into commission them only to find no credit or details are on the photo! My editor may send sample shots as inspiration… But can’t be tracked and bought!
So, i think its wise to ‘correctly’ use of social media so art directors who search high and lo for a cracking image may discover your work by happy accident’
– Andrew Beswick

‘Perhaps one of the most interesting stories regarding the power of social media concerns the photographer Eric Lafforgue. He started out posting his images of North Korea onto Flickr, and the result was not only almost cult viewing figures (over 2 million viewings) – but also he is now a highly respected, and well published international photographer ( http://www.politicaltours.com/photography/eric-lafforgue ). His images are utterly fantastic, and that helps of course! So he deserves recognition – but by all accounts flickr helped the promotion’
– Michael Hughes

‘Social Media is just a part of an overall marketing plan; in the modern world an essential part. For me the key word is “PLAN”. Decide how you’re going to use the tools you have available, then get on with it.
Just remember to keep making words and pictures.’
– Simon Brown

‘Social Media should form part of your overall marketing strategy, it isn’t a stand alone channel. You also need to think about what channels you are going to use, and lets face with there are many that work very very well for photographers if you invest the time and effort to learn how to communicate correctly and legally.
Yes it may cost in time; however you can buy / develop free apps that will allow you to automate many of the more mundane tasks.
@Don – you have it spot on there; it’s about who knows you BUT more importantly it’s about what your saying.
Social media shouldn’t be one way traffic (i.e. you to them) but it should encourage two way discussion and interaction’
– Andrew

‘I decided this year that I was going to actively start making use of social media more and not just depend on word of mouth or my in much need of a revamp website. I have been using LinkedIn regularly, as I have several corporate clients, who are on there, and have decided that this week I am going to take the plunge and sign up for twitter. Following on from that I am getting a new website design with a blog. Have decided to give FB a miss though.
Sonja Seear’

‘What do we buy via Social Media?
For me the answer is nothing. That is not to say that there are not benefits to be had from social media, just don’t hang all your hopes on it. I use it to stay in touch with previous clients, which can lead to new business through referrals and new friend contacts. Only had one booking that I know for sure has come through social media’
– Paul Spiers

‘It seems to me that all this on line social media is a major time suck. Going out and meeting folks eyeball to eyeball has netted me far more results than spending my day staring at a computer. On line, you are easily dismissed or passed by, just another entry amongst hundreds of thousands somewhat faceless others’
– Michael Hnatov

‘I agree with everyone here. Yes, Michael Hnatov, eyeball to eyeball is good if there’s someone around to talk with. Through the internet, I’ve hooked up with photographing Hip Hop (not my format of music) concerts. Thanks to the computer, I would have missed these chances to get out and do what I love to do, photograph people having fun and not getting into trouble’
– Rick Olmstead

‘I embraced social media quite some time ago and I use very specifically: a FB fan page for my podcast and LI for my consulting/training/teaching work. My website houses my portfolio, blog, podcast, videos and books.
I don’t expect work to come in via these portals. I’m online and use social media to affirm in clients and prospective clients minds that I am the right person for the job. When they check up on me, I want it easy for them to get to yes.
Most of my business comes in via SEO, referrals and past clients. I close all of my deals either in person or on the phone. Email is necessary for communications but the power of my personality and voice always has and always will carry the day’
– Michael e. Stern’