Posts Tagged ‘Barrett & Coe

14
Sep
12

My studio opens it’s doors tomorrow

Well, it has taken 4 1/2 months; but, finally, tomorrow morning I will welcome my first customers to my new studio. I think it was back in January, that I first wanted to stop doing home visits, and to be based in one location.  On the one hand, I will have a lot less parking tickets, fuel bills for my car, i will have access to family shoots and other national marketing campaigns; on the other, my customers will be harder to come by, as one of the advantages of home visits is the ease for the Mum, having the photographer come to her home, and its a lot less stressful for the baby.

So then I started searching – although there is a lot of empty space around, empty good quality space is harder to find, especially at the right price.  Rents in this area range from £12 to £40 per square foot.  Anyway I was lucky enough to find a place where the rent was almost reasonable, do-able certainly.  Of course the place needed to be redecorated, re-carpeted – then I needed to buy display images, furniture, etc.  Having put together a plan, i decided that I would have my first sessions in the middle of September, and hopefully earn enough in sales to meet the first 3 months rent by the next quarter day.  The decorators were great and were finished in 6 days, then came the carpet layers – not bad, and I have managed to get them to give out some vouchers for studio sessions.  Then Lance came in  and sanded and sealed the floor in the studio, itself.  British Telecom came and installed a phone line and broadband, i will give them 2 stars, the phone line still isn’t brilliant, but workable.  The Flash Centre in London were brilliant supplying the lights and modifiers, direct from the factory for some items, which were out of stock.  The UK distributor of Fatboy beanbags redeemed themselves, and I got what I wanted in the end.  Loxley’s also redeemed themselves after an expensive SNAFU, their customer service department has promised to put things right. SignsExpress who fabricated and fitted the signage have been really accommodating – the manager turning out to do fitting when there van was broken into and tools stolen outside their depot. The staff at Barrett and Coe head office have been fantastic:- Dominic, has been efficient and effective, Caroline has pulled out all the stops to get things in the right place at the right time, and finally, Elaine’s advice and counsel has been thought provoking and so useful.  There’s still a few last things to sort out, but I feel ready to go tomorrow.

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01
Apr
12

Another record month!

Well March was, again, my best month yet – record number of sales, record sales volume and my largest order yet.  To make it even better, I only got one parking ticket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With regards to hunting for a studio, I have decided to re-work my budgets, and am now looking for a property in the range of £10,000 per year.  Still tough to find somewhere of a decent size that ticks all the right boxes, but it does give me more options.  I looked at a likely property recently, that used to be a solicitor’s office.  The landlord is returning it to a bare shell condition, so I have made an offer.  The space is just over 600 square feet, and on the ground floor with street access.  It is among a small group of shops in an affluent suburb, not far from Kew Gardens.  The landlord is away on holiday at the moment, but I hope to hear if my offer has been accepted in the next week or so.

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.

14
Nov
11

Sort of busy weekend..

Saturday started off with 4 appointments in my diary for photographing babies.  The first appointment went well; I was pleased to see that there was a studio portrait of their eldest child on the wall, so, they were going to be used to buying studio portraits, and weren’t going to be surprised by the prices.  Finished that job, and picked up my voicemail – it was my 3rd appointment wanting to re-arrange!  left a message with some alternative times, another job to follow up.  I found somewhere to park near my 2nd appointments house, dragged all my gear round, knocked on the door – no answer!  Tried to phone them – no reply.  Oh well another no show, it happens.  So not having another appointment for 3 hours I decided to head to the supermarket and do my shopping, halfway down the detergents aisle, my phone rings – it was my 2nd appointment, waiting for me to show up.  The long and short of it was, they hadn’t given me the correct address.  So that one was re-arranged!  Fortunately, the 4th appointment went smoothly.

Yesterday was the last wedding seminar before the exams in December, which went well.  We went over some of the standard shots, and went over some of the theory questions.

   

After the seminar, I dashed back to do a viewing for the 1st appointment on the Saturday.  We started off with 41 pictures. from those they rejected 4.  After further comparing we got it down to seven photos.  They were determined that they only wanted to pay for 1 print, so with the free gift.  There were 5 photos, that they really liked, but wouldn’t pay for.  They just couldn’t afford the photos, still a £50 sale is OK.  I have another viewing this evening after work.  We will have to see how that one goes.

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.

10
Jul
11

Barrett and Coe Wedding Course

Today was day one of the wedding course I am undertaking, and its good to be doing some training again.  Although its only 5 weeks since the exam day for the portrait course, I have missed my Sundays in Ware.  Although there is some cross over from the portrait course to this course there is a whole lot to learn.  One of the daunting things about wedding photography, is remembering the photos you have to take.  Missing an important shot, is going to get you into hot water with the bride and groom.  So, to remember the shots you have to take the wedding is broken down into blocks, and today we learnt about Block A, which is the groom and best man, with the ushers at the church, normally taken before the bride arrives.

Obviously we didn’t have a wedding party to use as models, so we used the other students and members of staff.  Jenny, above, is a dab hand at role playing members of the wedding party – above, she is role playing the best man.

Here, the groom and the best man shake hands, a classic wedding shot, although the groom isn’t usually wearing cargo shorts and trainers!

We also practiced some environmental shots, with the aim of killing top light, and recognising the differing levels of light and shade.

So, in this shot of another student, the left side of his face is a little shiney, but there is a hint of a rembrandt triangle, and I am quite happy with the shot.

In summary, its good to be training again, now, on with the homework!