Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Preparing your photography business for Brexit

While we are unsure how and exactly when the UK is going to exit the EU, one thing we can almost certainly be sure of is that we will leave in 2020; although please don’t hold me to that.

Government research shows that 42% of small-to-medium sized businesses are unsure of how they can get ready and just 31% of the British public have looked for information on how to prepare for Brexit.

As a small business owner – running both an event photography software company and photography business – I know I’m certainly nervous about how these changes might impact me. So I wanted to share the key things I’ve learned about preparing a photography business for Brexit with you. Particularly as in the run up to the festive season, the impact of things going wrong could be dramatic.

1. Secure your supply chain – Your first priority should be speaking to everyone in your supply chain. Make a list of everyone you buy key items from – photo mounts & dye-sub printer media – call them and find out what they are doing to ensure they can still get these items to you in the event of any Brexit issues. Not being able to get your hands-on essential items can cause chaos for a small business. If your suppliers are unwilling to discuss their plans with you, then it is probably worth looking for an alternative supplier. Knowing this in advance gives you the time to speak to and compare the other options, so you can hopefully find another supplier who can guarantee a high level of service whatever the outcome.

2. Stock up – Consider investing more in stocking up your store cupboard now, to ensure you’re not stung by any price fluctuations or delivery delays. I’ve already bought mounts and dye-sub printer media to meet my requirements until July 2020. While the initial cost of this might dampen your cash reserves, the peace of mind and ability to keep on running in the event of any post-exit issues could pay dividends in the long-term. I’ve been paying extra attention to ensure all of our invoices and payments owed are met on time so we have a strong cash flow to increase our stock now.

3. Keep your eye on potential regulation changes – There are lots of different regulations which could change once the UK leaves the EU. Health and safety, VAT and cross-border travel could all have a big impact on anyone running a photography business. Minor changes have already been made to the government’s health and safety regulations in preparation for Brexit. These relate mainly to removing references to the EU – there will be no changes to legal requirements and protections. But that’s not to say more significant changes might occur. I’m regularly reviewing the news and also the government’s Get ready for Brexit website to make sure I can react to any changes as soon as they occur.

4. Be prepared for corporate customers to go quiet – While personal private events like weddings remain unaffected by economic slow-downs, it would seem wise to prepare for larger corporate customers to slow down the rate of their bookings – if they haven’t already. Many large corporates are becoming more cautious with their marketing and employee entertainment budgets as the word ‘recession’ is occasionally mentioned hand-in-hand with Brexit. To help bolster this potential slow-down, make time now to market your business and secure a wider range of clients. 

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Scaling Up Your Photography Business To The Next Level

If you’re anything like me, you got into photography because you loved taking photos; not because you wanted to be the next Richard Branson. Being a photographer and running a business require completely different skill-sets, and being good at one does not necessarily mean the other will come naturally.

Presuming that photography is your forte, as the word about your good work spreads and requests for bookings grow, your ability to fulfil all the requests as a one-man or woman band is limited. And unfulfilled requests mean missed revenue opportunities and further recommendations.

If you want to start generating more from your business, then the ability to scale-up and meet growing demand is key. But it can also be daunting, particularly if you’ve never run your own business before.

Here are five things to consider to help you do so successfully...

1. Hire a part-time assistant – Much of the time spent being a professional photographer can be taken up with the labour intensive tasks away from the camera. Editing photos, calculating expenses, processing invoices and responding to emails can take an age and take you away from the bit you add the real value to. Consider which tasks only you can do and where bringing in ad-hoc or part-time support might allow you to get through the other tasks faster, whilst you focus on the core of the business.

2. Join forces with other photographers – Often big events require more than one camera to cover them adequately. This is where partnering up with another photographer you respect, admire and trust can be helpful. You’ll not only be able to take on bigger, more profitable events but with any luck, they’ll return the favour to you and invite you to support some of their projects.

3. Invest in marketing – Word of mouth is a great way to kick-start a photography business but if you’re serious about growing then you have to get serious about marketing. Advertising in wedding magazines, on websites and through social marketing channels like Instagram can be a fantastic way to get your work seen by the people who really matter.

4. Use software to speed up certain processes – Walking customers through hundreds of shots at an event until you find theirs in an attempt to generate sales is a notoriously slow process. It also means you can only serve one customer at a time. New software is now available to help automate much of this using facial recognition and tablet computers. This way customers can self-serve to purchase photos while you continue snapping shots.

5. Make time to build your customer database in quiet periods – Photography is a notoriously seasonal business, particularly in Northern Europe and Northern America where the sun is only out for a few months. Make sure you’re using your quiet periods wisely. When you’re not out and about photographing events every week, put that time to good use building your customer database and proactively marketing your business to fill up the books for the following summer.


Friday, 14 June 2019

Setting Up For A Successful Summer Event

Summer is the busiest time of year for any professional event photographer. Weddings, summer balls, corporate parties, sporting events and graduation ceremonies are just a few of the projects booking up diaries. And busy means profitable, but only if you’re properly prepared. In the heat of the moment, it’s all too easy to miss a vital shot, forget to pack a key item or mistakenly assume you know what the client wants.

With that in mind, here are some of our top tips for setting up for a successful event this summer...

Speak to your client about their expectations and needs

First and foremost, sitting down and talking to your client about what they want from you is key. Get a clear brief from them, including details on what kind of event it is, what sort of imagery and style they’re looking for, whether there are any key moments to be shot or any key people to make contact with. It can be all too easy to assume that you as the professional automatically know what's required. But nothing ruins a profitable summer like poor communication and a disappointed customer.

Have a solid contract

Unfortunately event photography can be a fickle business. All too often clients will miss payment deadlines, and occasionally refuse to pay at all for something that was out of your control. Ensuring you have a clear contract for each event you photograph, incorporating as much detail about requirements as possible, is the best way to ensure both parties are legally supported.

Check the weather and the venue ahead of time

The weather and setting of an event will define much about how you prepare for it. Summer events usually mean long, hot and brightly lit days; before people move inside when the evening gets cooler. That being said, the odd summer storm has often been known to disrupt even the best laid plans. While you can’t control the weather, you can and should check it and the venue ahead of time to ensure that you’re prepared for whatever it throws at you.

Prepare your equipment in advance

Equipment is everything. What you decide to use on the day will either make or break the quality of what you produce for your client. When shooting outside you can make use of your telephoto zooms which allow you to capture more natural shots without being readily spotted by your subjects. For indoors, you’ll need your best low light camera and fast lenses. Select a camera model that has less noise at higher ISO levels and lenses that allow plenty of light to pass through. Tripods and flashes are a must-have accessory wherever and whenever you shoot.

Consider whether you want to sell and print on site

For large events like corporate summer parties or graduation ceremonies, there is much to be said for being prepared to sell and print shots on site. While it does put the pressure on to make sure the shots require no editing, sales tend to be much higher than when people are given the option to view and purchase online afterwards. People tend to be more motivated to buy there and then when they are able to access their portraits easily. Luckily there is simple to set up and use event photo software to help you do this.

Prepare a shot list

A shot list is just as simple as it sounds – a list of the images you want to capture during an event. Work with your client to develop this to ensure they’re happy with what you’re going to be delivering. Nothing is worse than not capturing a photograph that your client really, really wanted. It will also help both parties organise things to make sure that everything is ticked off the list.