Monday, October 10, 2011

Photography and your Business


So one of the most frequent questions I get asked is "how did I start out with great photos on our site?"

The truth is, in the very beginning, there was nothing I could do but use a few digital images that I had taken when I volunteered to do a few tables for close friends, baby showers, my son's baptism, etc. Was I happy? Nope, hated all the shots but I had to start from somewhere. Eventually, once I established some relationships with partners in the industry (photographers, event designers) did I start to get requests to do photoshoots....

Photoshoots: Now this can be a beast in itself. I'll be honest, had no idea what a photoshoot or what was expected from my end. Luckily the very first shoot I did was partnered up with MMD Events and Limelight, two partners that were able to tell me exactly what the feel for the shoot was--color palette, overall style, design, etc. From there I realized that photoshoots were a great tool for me to decide the type of shots I wanted.

What to do once you have pictures: Besides jumping up and down because you can FINALLY see your work through a professional photographer's lens, is decide how the pictures are going to be used. Is the intend of the photoshoot to submit to a great, wedding or entertainment blog, promote a venue or product, or was the photoshoot simply a tool to build the photographer's portfolio and of course, your own? There can be a multitude of reasons, but either way, just make sure that you are on the same page as everyone else on the team.

The shot (above) was submitted to a great entertainment blog, called The Cake Blog. Got me some great buzz off the feature and right from the start. Of course, the pictures were submitted only after getting the "okay" from the other photoshoot partners (Limelight/MMD Events) and in the end, they were thankful since everyone involved, recieves credit (no questions asked). Again, this goes back to building on those relationships!! If a photographer or other industry partner, sees the value in partnering up with your business, you'll find that the opportunities will start coming.

Other ways to use photography (with photographer's permission and credit): I created great photobooks that I take to all of my personal consultations and bridal shows. The books are my voice and I go to them constantly as a point of discussion, for inspiration, ideas, etc.

Investment: Every vendor's investment in the time, work, products/services put into a photoshoot are different.  In my case, my investment was not only time, but an actual product (candy/desserts). This forced me to evaluate my marketing costs and what photoshoots meant to my work. What is more valuable to me right now? Spending money on ad space in a magazine, or getting involved in a few photoshoots where I could build what, at the time was a weak portfolio. In my case, the answer was clear.

Trade-outs: Sometimes I was able to build on my portfolio without having to do a staged shoot. Whether it be agreeing to do a dessert table for a photographer's grand opening or a Holiday party for a networking group, I always ensured I would be able to recieve the images afterwards. Again, just simple ways vendors can create opportunites for eachother.

IMAGE CREDIT: CARRIE WILDES PHOTOGRAPHY/STUDIO LAUNCH's okay to be picky: Now that I've been in business a few years, I have adjusted a bit, but overall, I continue to wholeheartedly believe in the value of photography and what great shots have meant for my work. Are there times I say, "No?" Of course. Everything has be a great fit--is this the type of photoshoot you want to participate in? Is the timing right? Can you afford to do a shoot at this time? Is the ultimate purpose of the shoot in line with what you are looking to build on? Don't be afraid to ask yourself these questions (everytime).

Well, I hope I was able to provide a bit more insight into my relationship with photography and it's value to my work. Will touch on advertising in a few weeks...

Natalie PLUS Baby Preston (37 weeks and counting)

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