Monthly Archives: March 2018

5 Tips for Photographing a Wedding

I’ve written several posts covering tips for photographing a wedding. (See the wedding section in the margin). Last weekend I shot another wedding and found myself going through my usual preparation routine. While there’s a lot to plan for, to make this a ‘bite sized’ post, I’ve condensed it to 5 tips for photographing a wedding.

Wedding photography

Visiting this venue before wedding day enabled me to plan how best to use this boardwalk

Tip 1 – Visit All Venues Before the Wedding Day

This is a fairly obvious tip, but I continue to be surprised by the number of wedding photographers who don’t visit all venues in advance. If you want to give yourself maximum chance to produce great images, visit the venues and plan the shots. For the recent wedding I shot I had visited the church, outdoor location, and reception venue. I also attended the wedding rehearsal at the church on the Thursday night before the wedding.


If you need more convincing about visiting venues please read Why Visit Wedding Venues Beforehand.

Tip 2 – Know What’s Important to Your Client

It’s really important to know what your client is looking for. To do this you need to be deliberate in asking questions to see what matters most to the couple.

For some it is a big family occasion and for others it is a very private ceremony for the couple and some key guests. Invest time discussing what you client likes well before the wedding day. Not only will it help you deliver what they want, it will also help you stand out from most other wedding photographers.

To do this I like to go through sample albums from previous weddings with my client. Their reaction to the images helps me to understand what is most important to them in their wedding day and in their wedding photographs.

Tip 3 – Clean Your Equipment, Charge Your Batteries

Having equipment you know and trust helps you focus on the creative task of producing great images. I work through my equipment checklist the day before the wedding, and pack everything the night before.

I sleep well knowing that everything is clean, charged and ready to go. Knowing where all my equipment is, and where the back ups are if anything goes wrong, let’s me focus on enjoying the day and creating strong images.

Tip 4 – Work with a Second Shooter You Know and Trust

I’ve written several posts about the benefits of working with a second shooter. If you have a support person you know and trust, you can generate a larger range of images for your client with no additional stress. I always work with a second shooter.

If you need more convincing about this please read:

Tip 5 – Create Space in Your Calendar for Post Production

The wedding day is the high profile part of the job, but selecting and editing the images is the more time consuming component. Most of the weddings I shoot are still on Saturday’s so I make sure I create space in my calendar in the week after the wedding to make a strong start to selection and editing of images.

Thanks for reading 5 Tips for Photographing a Wedding. Happy shooting.

Great Reads – The Lonely Planet Story

It is some time since I have written a post for Beyond Here recommending a book or blog. That is partly because I haven’t been reading as much as usual. That changed last week with a trip to the local library where I have borrowed a number of books including The Lonely Planet Story.

Are you familiar with The Lonely Planet Story? I love travelling, and had the good fortune to live in a range of different countries during the 1990’s. In my role working for an airline (in a non photography job) I used to travel extensively.

During that time I lived in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Fiji, and back in New Zealand again. Throughout my travels I was a regular reader of Lonely Planet travel guides. There were others around – I remember the Let’s Go series plus Frommer’s Guides – but Lonely Planet was always the best.

Lonely Planet

(I have a much later photography connection to Lonely Planet which I will tell you about at the end of this post).

So what is The Lonely Planet Story about?

First, it’s not a photography book. Second, it’s not a business book either.

So why is it part of the great reads series on Beyond Here? The Lonely Planet Story literally tells the story of the husband and wife team who began and lead the Lonely Planet business. The book shares their love of travel and the origins of the business. It also covers the challenges they had along the way, insight into their personal lives, and the later sale of a majority stake in the business to BBC Worldwide.

Why do I recommend it?

I love to hear stories about well known businesses with tiny origins. I particularly love to hear about the passion of the founders. And I value the insight which comes from the hard work they have put in, and the ups and downs along the way.

Lonely Planet was started by husband and wife team, Tony and Maureen Wheeler. I had always assumed they were Australians but Tony was originally from England, and Maureen from Ireland. They tell a great story of arriving in Australia in the early 1970’s with 27 cents to their name. From those beginnings they built a worldwide business. What a great story!

Why might this book be enjoyed by people running photography businesses?

Many of us running small businesses have a great passion for photography and ride the daily ups and downs of a creative business. The Lonely Planet story is inspirational in that it tells a similar story of passionate people pouring themselves into their work and building a remarkable business.

The book is partly a travel story, partly a business story, and partly a life story of the founders. I found it to be a great read and think you might too. Check out The Lonely Planet Story next time you are at the library or the bookshop.

So what’s my photography link to Lonely Planet?

Lonely Planet has built a large collection of travel images for use in their guides. They also buy stock images at times, and I’m pleased to say they have bought at least one of mine. See one of my tree kangaroo images in Lonely Planet¬†guide to Papua New Guinea.

Thanks for reading Great Reads – The Lonely Planet Story. Check out the book.

7 Early Lessons Building an Image Library

Over the last 6 months I’ve had a dramatic change in my approach to stock photography. I had been an exclusive contributor to iStock since 2010 and had a portfolio of over 10,000 images producing a steady income. The problem was, the income was steady but not growing in line with my portfolio. I wrote about some of those issues in Why I Dropped iStock Exclusivity. At that time most of my stock photography friends were expecting me to spread my portfolio among the other major stock sites. I saw that being a very similar road to being with iStock, and instead focused on building an image library.

I can probably fill many posts with things I’ve learned on the journey so far – but for this post I have limited it to 7 Early Lessons Building an Image Library.

Lesson 1 – It Can be Done!

The most important point first – it can be done! Selling images via microstock sites is not the only option. Building an image library is an option and can be done.

Encourage

Building an image library can be done!

I went from committing to building it, to having a working website in 10 weeks. I’ve learned a lot on the way and could do it faster and more effectively if I was doing it again. But, coming back to lesson 1, if you are considering an alternative to microstock – building an image library can be done.

Lesson 2 – You Don’t Have to Build from Scratch

When I started seriously considering building an image library I had assumed I would have to build the website functionality from scratch. I assumed I would need to write a brief and have a web developer write the code. Good news, I was wrong!

There are several places where you can buy pre-existing capability which is proven in running other image libraries. So it was not a case of wondering if it would work, but buying the capability and tailoring it to my image library.

It was a big short cut and time saver to find that purchasing existing capability was going to be cheaper and easier than starting from scratch.

Lesson 3 – Knowledge of Hosting and Servers will Help

I had assumed that with some common sense and patience I’d be able to work out what was needed regarding servers and hosting for the new site.

On reflection I would say that is true. I also believe I caused myself unnecessary anxiety and worry by not talking to an expert before I started! My recommendation is to find an expert in this space. They will advise what you need.

Time saver

Getting expert help on the technical side will ultimately save you time and help you sleep better!

Save yourself some sleepless nights by asking an expert about hosting and servers.

Lesson 4 – There’s Value in Taking Time to Set Up Correctly

I decided to create a new company to keep the image library business separate from my photography business. If you haven’t done this before, setting up a new company is a relatively straight forward process which an accountant can help with.

Where’s the lesson here? In my desire to get moving I bought the domain name and registered it under my photography company (not the image library company). My speed in doing that then managed to slow me down. I had to subsequently transfer the web address to the new company, and wait several days for that to happen.

In hindsight it was not a big deal. But next time I would establish the new company first and then purchase the web address.

Lesson 5 – Things Take Time

In lesson 1 I outlined that I went from concept to working website in 10 weeks. Some might think 10 weeks is fast, and others will think it is slow. During this process I have learned that things which I assumed would move very quickly can take time.

Specifically I was surprised that setting up payment functionality through the bank would take time. There was plenty of paperwork involved, followed by review from the bank. There must be processes in the background for a bank to make sure everything is legitimate, but I hadn’t expected it to take several weeks. That’s worth knowing if you are setting up payment functionality on your own website or image library.

The second area which took longer than I expected was the legal agreements. The main ones I needed were a licence agreement for the image buyer, and a photographer agreement for contributing photographers. While from a legal point of view this is fairly straightforward, lawyers are not just waiting around for customers like me. They have a range of (mostly larger) projects on the go, and mine was not the A priority. In future I’ll allow more time for the legals to be completed.

Lesson 6 – User Experience of the Website is Key

I made a mistake in launching too soon without properly considering the user experience on the website. I was anxious to move from “build phase” to “proof of concept” on my business plan, and went live as soon as possible.

Puzzle

User experience is a very important piece of the puzzle

I’ve learned that having a working website is one thing. And having a website which is appealing and intuitive to customers is another. Unfortunately that meant that the first 1000 visitors to the site had a “less than ideal” experience.

Both the look of the site and the functionality are now much improved. This will be something we continue to develop. My recommendation is don’t be too anxious to launch. Invest time in making sure your site looks great and is intuitive for your user.

Lesson 7 –¬† Find a Web Developer You Trust

I have complete trust and faith in my web developer. It is so reassuring to know that the person on the other end of many emails and text messages is completely trust worthy and working to make the website a success. Nothing seems to have been too much of a problem despite there being lots of things to work on some weeks, and nothing to work on in others (thanks Alison!). Having a web expert you completely trust is great for peace of mind.

I have lots more lessons learned on this journey already which I will save for other posts. Thanks for reading 7 Early Lessons Building an Image Library. If you’d like to check out progress, please head over to Melbourne Stock Photos.

 

Imagebrief Terminate Services

Almost exactly one year ago I wrote a post for Beyond Here called New Ways to Sell Your Images. It looked at a site called Imagebrief which was connecting image buyers with photographers by providing written briefs. My final point in that post raised the question Will It Be Successful? Today that question has been answered. Overnight I’ve received an email announcing the end – Imagebrief terminate services.

Plan

Their plan seems to have fallen over. News overnight that Imagebrief terminate services

Directly from the announcement where Imagebrief terminate services

“Dear Craig,

Today, we’re announcing that after six years of connecting agencies, brands and creators, we will be closing down ImageBrief’s photographer marketing services.

We’re proud of the products and apps we built, but even more so, we’re grateful for the community that enabled them to grow. More than 70,000 creators earned millions of dollars collaborating with 12,500+ global agencies and brands in 169 countries.

There has never been a better time for creators to thrive. Demand for content has increased, and the tools to create world-class creative are more accessible than ever.

Our talented team of engineers, designers, developers, and curators have worked tirelessly to make ImageBrief a success in a competitive and rapidly evolving landscape, and our immediate priority is to help you transition to other services to support your business.

In the coming days, our team will be in contact with you directly with detailed information about your specific account, license history, and services. Over the next week, we recommend logging into ImageBrief to download and retain your license history and related assets. Further details can be found in the FAQ’s below.

We want to thank you for your participation and loyalty, and look forward to working with you in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition.

Sincerely,

Team ImageBrief”

How Will This Impact Individual Photographers?

I had submitted images to a handful of briefs but it was a tiny part of my business.

I know 2 photographers who invested significant time and energy working on briefs for Imagebrief. They were positive about the financial returns they received. Those photographers also felt the briefs directly connected them with the buyer, and gave them a better understanding of the needs of the image buyer.

They will no longer have Imagebrief as a source of income or ideas.

money

Multiple sources of income is an asset to any business

What Can We Take From This?

The email from Imagebrief doesn’t explain why Imagebrief terminate services. I assume the business model was not a financial success.

This reinforces the challenge of working with an online business. If it is not going well, that is very difficult for a photographer to know. I doubt any photographers were wholly relying on Imagebrief for their work and income. If they were, they have very short notice for finding alternatives.

As a business this reinforces the value of having multiple sources of income.

What Other Outlets Does a Photographer Have?

There are significant challenges with the stock photography model and distributing through major stock agencies. However, this is still an easy way to access a global market of image buyers. If you’ve got the time and the commitment to produce a high volume of images, stock photography is still an option.

With the announcement of Imagebrief terminate services it also reinforces to me the value of a photographers relationships in their local community. There is always a pipeline of work, both commercial and domestic, where people want to deal with local people who they know and trust.

map

Investing in local relationships helps produce a pipeline of business

I recently did a shoot for a dentist who runs his own practice. Ironically, he wanted images which did not look like stock images (!) and featured himself and his staff. He asked me to do the work as he knows and trusts me. He didn’t get quotes from other photographers, and he paid my invoice within 3 days of receiving it. That was great value from a strong relationship built over time. Have you been investing in relationships in your local community? Is it providing you a pipeline of work?

For more reading about Imagebrief Terminate Services see this post on PetaPixel – ImageBrief Shuts Down After 6 Years of Trying to Disrupt Stock Photos