Posts Tagged ‘baby

06
Oct
12

Why i am so happy to work in my studio

The studio has been open three weeks, and its absolutely brilliant.  It is a joy to come to work here, and I wish I had found this place months ago.

Before, when travelling to peoples homes, not only did I have to carry all my equipment and samples, but the amount of uncertainty I faced was amazing:- would there be a place to park my car (hopefully, without being clamped or getting a ticket), how much space would there be (from a purpose built studio in one house, to four people living in a single bedroom with no room to swing a cat), where would I put my light, how would I show them the images (nice modern TV I could plug my laptop into, or would I need my projector).  Now I have a place with easy parking, three rooms to work in: a reception to get to know my clients and to find out what styles of photographs they want, a studio to actually take the photos, and a viewing room to show them the pictures afterwards.

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And of course because I am operating in my studio the lights are already set up, and I just need to make minor adjustments during the session.

On the negative side, my overheads are higher, but that should be equalled out with higher average orders.  Also I have to clean up after my customers.  Anyone who has had a baby will know how messy they can be! It also astounds me how many mums don’t think twice about wheeling their wet, muddy pushchairs onto the carpet.

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One of the nicest things for me is that if I have a cancellation, then I can get on with something else like accounts or photo editing or even updating this blog; whereas, when I was on the road, a cancellation invariably meant dead time.  Having said that I am finding the studio has a slightly higher no show rate than home visits.

Another great thing is being able to take family portraits, something that was quite hard to do in people’s homes.  Now I have the space to do this, and also it makes available to me certain national marketing campaigns, that weren’t available to me without a studio.

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Now, I am starting to market the wedding side of my business, and if I get 5 or 6 weddings next year that will be fine, because realistically there is more profits in family photos than there is in weddings.

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11
Mar
12

So what make’s a great job?

I love taking photographs, and I love taking photos of people.  Although, I am not, by any means, brilliant at it; it seems I have the skills to make people cry when they see my photos of their babies, not always, but sometimes – and they do get out their wallets and pay me for these photos, again, not always, but, more often than not. Better than all this, though, is meeting really nice people.  I don’t think I have ever worked as a photographer for anyone that has made me say, “I won’t be going back there again”.  Some of my customers can be particularly trying, and some of them are absolutely brilliant, and exceed my initial expectations by miles.  I had one such customer this weekend:- the initial appointment told me that the customer was Ukranian, and living in run down part of my territory.  I didn’t have great expectations, but, oh how wrong I was!  When I arrived at the door the Mum was nicely dressed and had put on some make up, Dad was in the shower, and the baby was awake and alert.  Further more, they had cleared a large space in their living room to give me enough room.  The to top it all off, when I asked Mum if she wanted a light or dark background for her baby’s photos she knew she wanted the darker background, which is my preference as well.  So there was a great photo session, followed by the product walk, no problems there, and they didn’t baulk at the price list.  So all is looking well for the viewing later this week; and, even if they don’t buy anything, it will have been nice meeting with them and working with them.  So, I can safely say, that taking portraits reflects my passion:- tick box number one.

As a photographer and part of a franchise, I have the opportunity to be coached by some very talented people, whether they be other franchisees who have bee running studios for a few years, or multi-award winning photographers who have been taking photos for over 30 years.  Also, by joining various professional photography societies, you can get access to some great talents, who are happy to share advice.  Additionally, you can go on training courses.  For instance, I don’t see myself as a natural salesman, so I am going to a workshop on Friday, aimed at improving my sales techniques.  Maybe changing my terminology will help?  I thought it was a workshop; but it seems to be called a ‘Bootcamp’!  So, great mentoring is available – tick box number two.

Learning a lot and fast; oh, yes, I have had to do that!  Pointing a camera, with the correct settings, and pressing the shutter at the right time is only a small part of it all.  Taking photos that sell is important, but how do you get those customers in the first place, and once you are taking photos for that customer, how do you get them to part with their hard earned cash?  What did I learn today?  Don’t believe Mum when she says that its safe to take their babies nappy off.  Fortunately, I had already learned to keep a spare blanket in the back of the car, for the next client.  So, continual learning, tick box number three.

Does the job encourage rapid change?  Well that’s a good question.  The franchise I am in is growing rapidly, with new studios opening, and new, national marketing campaigns, so yes I am having to adapt rapidly.  The photography, I would say isn’t changing that much.  At the moment I am reading a book on lighting for portraits, written by Walter Nurnberg in 1948. Although the language is quaint, and the terminology different, everything he writes in that book still holds true today.  For those of you interested, if you can get hold of a copy from a book dealer, I would say its worth every penny. Tick box number four.

So all in all, its a great job that I really enjoy; but, everybody needs to earn a crust, so I am not planning to give up the day job yet.  When I can turnover £200,000 per year in sales – then I will definitely consider it.  My target is to reach that target in 3 years.

 

26
Feb
12

February – best month yet!

Another month draws to a close, so its time to report my KPIs.  Well February was a good month, with my highest number of sales, and my highest total sales volume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The average order volume stays fairly steady at just under £200, which for baby photos, ain’t bad.

The search for a studio is proving to be painfully slow, and difficult.  Based on an annual turnover of £60,000 per annum that I hope to achieve once I start doing family portraits; that gives me a budget for rent of £6,000 per annum or £12 per sq. foot, and I haven’t found anything like that yet, but I am still looking.

23
Feb
12

Kate Middleton is Pregnant

Yep, that’s right you heard it here first!  So how did I come by this piece of tittle-tattle? I was told it by our company’s press officer.  One of the ladies in our team is the main organizer for the company’s annual function, and the press officer came over, yesterday, to ask a question about the parking.  The press officer is an ex-Fleet Street hack and is married to a photojournalist, who still works on the ‘Street of Shame’. So, the reason for the question, was that he would be getting to the hotel early, so he could watch the England v. Wales Rugby match, but his wife would arrive later as she had to photograph Kate Middleton.  He then said, “Its quite difficult for her, you know.  She’s not allowed to ride in police cars or helicopters, because she’s pregnant”

Well the whole office turned around, stunned – did he just say that Kate Middleton was pregnant?  It turns out that, its the press officer’s wife that’s pregnant, not Kate Middleton.  Of course Kate might have a bun in the oven, we just don’t know.

30
Nov
11

Movember

Movember (the month formerly known as November) is a moustache growing charity event, that has seen several of my friends and colleagues who have sprouted hairy upper lips to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostrate and testicular cancer. You will be pleased to hear that, although I have sponsored several moustaches, I have remained clean shaven throughout.

On the photo business side, things are looking a lot brighter. Firstly, I removed the cap on the number of client leads I receive; and, secondly, I started to do a sitting after work, followed by a viewing. My diary is now full, until I leave for my holiday on 19th December, and I already have eight sittings booked for January.

In November, I did 24 sittings – I would have done more, but there were a few cancellations and rearrangements due to the baby coming out in a rash, or getting a cold. From those sittings, I secured six sales. My largest sale was £425, and there were two of those – for November my average order was just under £250. I really could do with some more £400 plus, sales though. But the real bonus, is I am starting to get referrals. On Monday evening I was doing a viewing for a young couple, and one of the grand-parents walked in, saw the photos and burst into tears, so I will go back and give the grand-parents a viewing sometime, also in January, they want a family sitting undertaken. My second viewing, on Monday, Mum burst into tears during the slide show (this is not so unusual), and she has several friends who are pregnant or just had babies; she will recommend me to them. If they all live in £600k apartments then I will be happy.

Having said that, I am just as satisfied selling a single image of a baby to a couple, that they will treasure. And, the job is still fun, especially, the viewings. On Sunday I did a viewing for a single Mum, and Granny was there, and two of Mum’s sisters. All of them loved the photos, and the presentation was hilarious with the girls making comments on the expression of the baby I had captured. It took a while, but I walked out with a healthy sale from that, but, even if they had just taken the free gift, I would have been smiling.

The biggest expense this month, was replacing my car. My little run around, that I purchased 18 months ago to tide me over until I went back to Hong Kong, finally gave up the ghost; well, it had done 130,000 miles. So I have replaced it with a nearly new, Nissan Qashqai, which is one of only two cars that is designed and built in Britain, but, mainly, is the ideal car for me to lug my photography gear around the urban landscape of Twickenham, Richmond and Hounslow.

This coming weekend, I have to travel to Norwich for my wedding photography exam. I haven’t done much revision, so will have to see what the outcome is, but hour for hour, portrait photography seems to be more profitable.

05
Nov
11

The first month under my belt

So, with all the preparation needed, such as getting stationery printed, and sorting out insurance, and marketing; I didn’t start the sittings for baby portraits until the 15th October.  In that time, I have had 13 appointments for sittings.  From those, I have had 2 cancellations and 2 no shows.  Out of the remainder I have had 3 sales, with an average order of around £170.  So far, I have 15 appointments lined up for November.

Putting the numbers to one side, I am really enjoying the work, well certainly the marketing, sittings and viewings – the sales side I need to work on.  What I have learned this month, is I need to show a wider choice of shots – different poses, backgrounds, clothed, unclothed, and to a lesser extent, different expressions.  Customers seem to want a wider variety of shots, especially, if they are buying a collection – which offers them the best value.

Something that was reinforced to me this month, was never do a viewing when Dad isn’t around.  I had a viewing yesterday evening, where Dad had been called into work at short notice, and Mum loved the photos.  We chose her favourite photos, a selection of 12 different ones, enough for a collection number 3, but she wouldn’t part with a penny unless her husband was there.

The unforeseen aspects of the month, were that I had to replace my exposure meter, which failed on me, and more importantly, my car is now starting to play up, and will probably have to be replaced since its done nearly 130,000 miles.  The car has served me well, as a run around I bought 18 months ago for less than £2,000.

One of my favorite customers, was a young couple who lived in Richmond.  I received a phone call from the Mum two days before the sitting asking to change the appointment, because the sitting was due to take place during the Rugby World Cup Final, and her husband was from New Zealand.  I readily agreed, and re-arranged the sitting for the afternoon. Partly, I wanted to watch the rugby myself, but, mainly, it was all part of my flexibility to my customers.  They went on to spend a couple of hundred quid, and look like being returning customers, with friends to recommend me to, as well.  So, in conclusion, I am not ready to give up my day job yet; but, I am gaining in confidence – and my customers all say they love my photos.