INSPIRATION making women feel confident TERRY HOPE an editor with a passion plus much more inside...
SPRING / SUMMER 2011
...and a very warm welcome to Eye Spy, the brand new publication from Aspire. I’m so thrilled to be able to introduce you to this exciting new concept, bringing together news, tips and gossip from the wonderful world of photography in your very own online magazine. We’ve got delectable contributions and insightful interviews with some of the best in the
business, all rounded up for your sheer enjoyment! Join us every quarter as we bring you all that’s hip and happening, and please drop me a line if you’d like to see something featured in a future issue, or indeed if you have something you’d like to contribute yourself - Eye Spy is your magazine, and we want you to share in the adventure!
Gossip. Rebrands, relaunches and so very much more!
IT’S BEEN QUITE A JOURNEY in 2011 We all know that the photography industry is always changing, and nowhere is this more evident than at Aspire Photography Training. We’ve torn up the rule book, reinvented the way we look at photography, and we’ve started a revolution that’s gathering pace... Our new exhibition stand made its debut at this year’s SWPP and Focus
Since 1998, we’ve empowered photographers to start their own businesses and discover their own photographic styles. Industry-leading photographers like Damien Lovegrove and Brett Harkness started out as fresh-faced students of ours – and just look at them now! As photography trainers, we have a duty to stay ahead of the trends, to help photographers stand out in an increasingly competitive market, and to offer the absolute best training that you’ll find anywhere. From this fusion of passion, skill and experience, Aspire was born.
Our new identity reflects photography in the 21st Century. It’s about taking yourself to the next level, reaching new heights of excellence in everything you do. At our gorgeous new studio in the heart of the stunning Lake District, we’ve created an inspiring environment that’s conducive to active learning, business development and positive thinking. The courses we offer have also undergone a huge change. Our genre-defining seminars and workshops are better than ever before, with a set of exciting new additions covering landscape photography,
portfolio development and business growth at all levels. Delivered by the industry’s leading trainers, these courses will change your photography and your business forever.
Take the first step towards a new career and a new you call Aspire today on 01524 782200.
in the news
MASTER CLASS welcomes Melissa Love
Melissa Love’s branding and website systems make it easy for photographers to establish their own identities. Websites, branding, blogs – creative magpie Melissa Love can help you out with all of these and more. Using the versatile Showit website system to its fullest extent, Melissa specialises in animated websites that will have your clients’ eyes popping out on stalks. Making an impact is key to Melissa’s work. As Aspire Photography Training’s newest trainer, she’ll be showing forward-thinking shutterbugs the best ways to wow prospective clients, as well as offering her uniquely vibrant brand of advice on how to stand out from the crowd. You can’t ever afford to be “just another photographer” - your clients want something exceptional, not the half-hearted service of an also-ran. So don’t take any chances when you’re promoting yourself. Make sure your brand is up to scratch, and get a website that’s going to sparkle. In short, have a chat with Melissa.
Alright, we know nobody cal ls her Janey really, but it looks good in the headin g. We are, of course, referring to our very own and very inimitable Jane Breakell - the gal with over fifteen years of world class experience in hel ping businesses to thrive, from guiding them on their branding and marketing right through to the fundamentals of making a business work in today’s challenging trading environment. Jane’s skills are manyfold, and when it comes to the spe cific training requirements of the photog raphy industry, she certainly knows her business onions, and she’ll empower you to peel them without shedding a tear. Having mentored some of the best in the business, Jane will keep you focussed on your end goals through all the dauntin g pressures of being a start up or turning pro. In fact, Jane’s only weakness is for a Thornton’s special toffee (“they’ll be the ruin of me!”) and when she’s not munching her way through a quarter (sorry, 100 grams ) of those, she’s contemplating her next trip to Tenerife or planning to watch Lord of the Rings on dvd for the hundre d and thirty-seventh time with her grandkids. Go Jane!
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Inspiration and INTIMACY Photographing women
Capturing stunning images of women is one of the Holy Grails of photography, but even the most successful image maker will agree that it’s tough at the best of times. There are so many factors at work, so many things that can go wrong… and at the same time, so many things that can go beautifully right.
Photographing women isn’t just about focus, aperture and composition - it’s so much more. The essence of femininity is energy, beauty and passion, and your job is to allow these elusive elements to crystallise in a collection of images that will resonate with your clients on an emotional as well as an aesthetic level, allowing them to recognise and celebrate their own womanhood. Aspire’s courses on female photography are presented by the industry’s leading lights, photographers who understand the importance of customer care before and after a shoot, and who use their technical and creative ability to
capture amazing images - images that are as much about art as they are about portraiture. Whether you choose Woman’s Hour, Fine Art Weddings or something else altogether, you’ll gain a detailed understanding of how to use the tools at your disposal to provide your clients with an unforgettable shoot. Each course will revolutionise your skills in a particular niche of female photography, equipping you with an indispensable toolkit of photographic techniques and customer care know-how.
come to realise that the environment you create through your direction of the shoot can make the difference between images which are attractive, and ones which are essential. Your role in the shoot is to make your client feel the way she wants to feel, whether that’s through the freedom of a lifestyle shoot, the emotion of a wedding shoot or the sensuality of a boudoir shoot. In the finished images, your client must recognise herself as a woman in all her beauty and strength.
Of course you’ll learn how to use your camera more effectively, but you’ll also
BUT what’s the best way for a woman to dress? Jan Shutt, head of award-winning fashion retailer Sunday Best, has the perfect solution to any sartorial dilemmas: “The best accessory for any woman is confidence. If she feels secure in her own beauty, and happy in her own skin, she’ll look amazing.
Of course, on a more practical level, black and white clothing is always a wonderful choice – it rarely dates and it won’t clash with your own style. Catwalk and high street trends are a great source of inspiration but there are no hard and fast rules. Take what’s out there, and interpret it in your own way. Fashion is there to be enjoyed – it’s a vehicle for self-expression.” Too many photographers, even seasoned industry veterans, make the mistake of managing a shoot through their viewfinder. It simply doesn’t work. How can a woman feel able to express herself confidently if she doesn’t feel relaxed? Simple - she can’t. And that’s why, in photographing women, you must become more than a photographer. You’re creating an experience for your clients, an indulgent and often fantastic new reality that they won’t want to leave. Think of the photography session as a spa treatment: . It’s an illusion, but a beautiful one. So beautiful, in fact, that if you’ve done everything right, your client will want to repeat it time and again.
A vote for CONFIDENCE Development and self-improvement
It’s the eternal struggle...
...in a creative industry where everything is subjective, how do you stay confident? Whether you call it an emotion, a feeling,
or a state of mind, confidence is crucial to who you are. You can’t buy it,
but you can often find it in some unlikely places. (Don’t try rummaging down the side of the sofa though, there probably won’t be any there.)
EX CL US
Most people you meet are searching for confidence, and nowhere does this ring truer than in the world of business. Making decisions isn’t easy. There’s always a lot riding on the choices you make – the roof over your head, for one thing. And if, like a lot of photographers, you’re going it alone, it can be difficult to maintain faith in yourself. In a world that’s so saturated with different choices and options, how do you keep your confidence levels up? The solution, as you might have guessed, isn’t straightforward. The first step is to simply acknowledge that we’re all surrounded by stuff that weakens our resolve and challenges our commitment to making choices. You can certainly build your own confidence, but it requires a great deal of technique and commitment, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to develop new thought processes, new routines and new ways of doing things. First and foremost, you need to focus on being yourself. It’s simple, but not easy. You need to feel settled with being the person you really are – maintaining a facade of confidence will only work for a short time, and can prove incredibly tiring in the long run. And we all know that a tired photographer is uninspired, uninteresting and – frankly – no use to anyone. One of the great things about being a grown-up is that you can choose how to interact with the world – how to behave, what to accept, and what to reject. Developing your confidence means applying these principles to yourself. You need to learn yourself all over again. What’s right, REALLY right, for you, and what do you need to edit out of your life? We’re all different, we all tick differently, and we all have different values; it’s time to establish who you really are, and how you can achieve the results you want. Confidence is the key to this. Remember, life is one big learning curve. Something you always need to
consider is that everyone is learning, experiencing and approaching the world from a slightly different perspective. The people around you may be completely unaware of how they’re affecting your confidence, as they see everything in their own way. In resolving this, and reducing the negative impact they’re having on you, you don’t have to get them to see what you see instantly (although this is certainly something to aim for in the long run). Instead, you need to understand their perspective – this is far easier than trying to bring them around to your way of thinking. Developing your confidence will have a massive effect on your life, in business and in private. You’ll discover new opportunities, feel more at ease with your decisions, and get better reactions from those around you. The people with buckets of confidence tend to be the most successful: they question less, and trust themselves more. This is the kind of person you are, deep down – leave nothing to chance, and start making the changes that will enhance the way you feel about your place in the world.
THREE truths about confidence... Your confidence needs looking after.
Become complacent about how confident you are, and your self-belief will gradually evaporate. Find ways to nurture your sense of decisiveness or self-worth, and revisit them regularly.
Confidence isn’t about saying “yes” to everything. We’re such a polite nation and the oh-so-British instinct when faced with any kind of challenge is to accept it with a stiff upper lip, assuming that to do so is a sign of confidence and capability. Don’t be fooled – sometimes it takes more confidence to grit your teeth and say “no”.
Confidence is SO attractive.
It’s well known that you take on the traits of the people around you; by becoming more confident, you’ll gradually become surrounded by confident, successful people. And, by a fabulous process of osmosis, you’ll become more successful too. What’s not to like?
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… although that certainly helps. You cannot – repeat, CANNOT – afford to underestimate the power of networking, both inside and outside the photography world. Talk to other businesses in your area and start making connections. Kids’ clothes shops, florists, hairdressers, schools, bridal gown shops... any self-respecting local business or organisation will jump at the chance to get in touch with others.
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Find a niche IT’S YOUR BUSINESS – make the rules up as you go along! Niche photography markets are everywhere, just waiting to be discovered. Talk to
people, find out what they’re interested in, and you’ll be amazed at the specialist markets that present themselves. You’ll get plenty of model portfolio shoots from beauty salons; wedding photography seems to be getting edgier by the hour; and you never know who might be up for a boudoir shoot in the woods.
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VE. A R B E B . D BE BOL nal!
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A MAN WITH A PLAN You’ll probably only know him as the editor of Photo Pro Magazine, but Terry Hope’s understanding of the photographic world goes way above and beyond magazines. He took some time out from his busy schedule to tell us a little about his work... So what would you call your “day job”?
For the most part, it’s a case of pulling each issue of Photo Pro together – there are many elements involved in running a busy monthly magazine, so I do a bit of everything, which keeps it interesting. The whole process of compiling content, handling the administration side of things, dealing with costings and invoicing, can be a pretty in-depth process. The really exciting part is planning an issue and getting the flow of it right: it’s such a buzz to see an idea come to fruition in the magazine that ultimately drops through your letterbox every month.
Was your current role part of an overall game plan? Were you always drawn to editing? I get a particular buzz out of writing about a subject I’m passionate about, such as professional photography. I enjoy the camaraderie and respect that exists between fellow professionals, the philosophy of self-help and the general giving nature of so many people in the business. I’m self employed myself, so I understand what it’s like to run a small business and the challenges that this throws up, and I also empathise with those trying to be their own boss and having to handle all of the less enjoyable things, such as tax returns and staying on top of cashflow!
What path did you take to get where you are today?
It was rather convoluted: I started out planning to be a photographer but quickly realised that my strength lay in writing rather than photography on its own. I went to college to achieve photographic qualifications and – via a short-term job at the BBC, which convinced me that being in a darkroom definitely wasn’t my thing! - went straight into journalism. My first job in the photo press was for Camera Weekly Magazine in 1981: I stayed there as the features editor for about eight years, until the title was bought out and closed down by IPC, the publishers of the rival Amateur Photographer title. Ironically, I ended up landing the job of Features Editor at AP. Since then, I’ve written around 14 books, edited BPI News and Professional Photographer, and written for the national press about loads of things. I feel my biggest achievement was being involved in the launch of Bright Publishing four years ago, and being launch editor of Photo Pro and Digital SLR User Magazines.
You’re a recognised name in the industry – but do you take pictures yourself? Absolutely – I’d be missing out on so much if I had access to all that test equipment and didn’t enjoy getting out
and about with it! The editorial team at Bright Publishing takes great pleasure in photography, which was best summed up last year when the new Olympus Pen turned up in the office. The gaggle of people around the box that the camera came in, all wanting to have a touch and feel of what was a groundbreaking model, was like watching children in a sweetshop. It’s great to see that kind of enthusiasm, which exists even when we’re seeing and handling new kit pretty much every day.
What makes a good social photographer? Which photographers have come to your attention who do you think could change the way we view and capture the world? I think individuals such as Damien Lovegrove, Julia Boggio, Brett Harkness and the like are good role models to follow because they never stand still and they are constantly reinventing themselves, looking for the next opportunity. If you wait around until someone has developed a service which is proving to be popular, then the chances are that you are too late to be at the forefront of it. Ideas such as Cherish the Dress – the opposite to the Trash the Dress norm – are great ways to attract customers and you need to have something that will differentiate
Terry is an editor at...
you from the crowd. Always be on the lookout for new ideas, be receptive to what’s going on around you and take on training, because this will teach you new skills and will give you the chance to network.
How do you think the accessibility and affordability of high-end photographic equipment is going to affect the industry as a whole? Are there any potential dangers for the traditional “professionals” now that less experienced photographers have access to similar equipment?
The professional who is on top of their game and who can get their head around the fact that you have to deliver top quality at all times and market yourself in fresh, inventive ways, will always have the advantage over the amateur, whose main weapon is low price. There is a place in the market for rock bottom deals, but there are also plenty of people whose main requirement is a set of pictures that they could not have taken themselves. This is down to a lot more than just gear: put a Hasselblad into the hands of someone who hasn’t got a good eye for a picture or decent technique, and they
still wouldn’t be able to take a good picture. I also think that presentation is now crucial for the professional: your work has to look amazing, and you should always be on the lookout for new products and approaches that will appeal to the customer. If these things are done well then they will set your work apart. This is one of the jobs that Photo Pro has to do: to tell the professional what’s out there and to provide case studies that highlight what other photographers are doing to stay ahead.
What do you think makes a good photograph? What do you look for in an image?
I usually look for immediacy and vibrancy. A picture that has warmth and intimacy will come across immediately, and that often has very little to do with technical quality. The photographers who can relate to their client and extract something of their personality within a session will always find themselves in work.
What would you change in the social photography industry? I’m not sure I would change anything, but I would hope for people to enter the business with their eyes wide open so that they realise just how big a challenge it is going to be and
how much of their lives it is going to take over – but also how personally rewarding it can be to be in control of your own destiny.
Imagine for a moment that you could grant three wishes for an upwardly mobile social photographer. What would they be, and why?
Wish One: plenty of work on the horizon. There are a lot of good photographers out there still having to fight to bring the bookings through the door. Wish Two: a greater appreciation by the general public that you usually get what you pay for, and a price which seems to be too good to be true probably really is too good to be true. Wish Three: an all-round realisation that great social photography is about far more than just pressing the shutter, and that you also need to be in control of all the things, such as marketing, promotions and publicity, that need to run alongside it.
Marketing and branding with Nige Burton
FALL IN LOVE with your Brand Branding and business consultant Nige Burton takes a look at the vital role strong branding and marketing can play in the success of your business
No matter how impressive your photography is, if it has a dog’s dinner of a website enveloping it people will want to reach for the nearest bucket. And of course, the website is not where it ends – or, indeed, it shouldn’t be; every single item you give to your potential customer is a little piece of your business; something they can take away, stroke, cherish. If you’re ever in any doubt about whether or not to give something out, the answer is usually ‘don’t bother’. Once you give out a dodgy business card or badly printed showcard, all is lost, believe me.
The golden rule must be not to compromise on anything. Choose very carefully who you want to put in charge of inventing and managing your brand and creating your marketing materials. In many instances, this is just as important as your photography and – occasionally, if I dare say it – more so. Attention to every detail, whether it’s your website, business card, showcard, stationery or pull up banner, is absolutely crucial. There must be a real synergy, and each part of the jigsaw must be stylish and flawless. If you get this right, you’ll find so many more enquiries turning into actual bookings and, just as importantly, the quality of those enquiries will go up, a lovely process which bears a direct correlation to the level of fee you can command. Psychologically, it works like this: you feel confident about how your business image is portrayed which, in turn, makes your potential customer feel
more confident in you and your ability to deliver what they’re after. You then respond to that confidence from them by feeling altogether better about the whole process, and so on and so on.
It’s something which Aspire’s very own marketing guru Catherine Connor knows only too well. “When delegates arrive on our courses there’s a fairly mixed bag of opinions when it comes to the importance of marketing and branding,” she says. “But by the time they leave us, they realise what an amazing difference it can make to their success or otherwise. “We don’t just teach them photography here, but how to run every aspect of their business and we place huge emphasis on the strength of their brand and their marketing toolkit. Those who follow our advice are invariably more successful.” I suppose a lot of how you tackle this whole marketing malarkey is reflective of how seriously you want to be taken by your customers. You have approximately three seconds from when they first clap eyes on anything representing you – be that your website, business card, brochure, whatever – to influence that emotional decision they make about whether to take things any further. Anything that lets the side down even a tiny bit can become a huge barrier to you getting the job, and that’s something to avoid at all costs. The trick here is to invest sufficient capital in the first place and then
choose a design company who understands you and what you are trying to achieve. And it’s this investment bit that people sometimes get wrong. Try to gain some perspective – quite often, a photographer who thinks £2000 is too much to pay for a website will be wanting to charge just that amount for a wedding. What you have to think about is how many more weddings are you likely to book with a stunning website and, moreover, how much will you be able to charge for them?
So, in summary, I guess the best advice is simple. The next time you think “that’ll do” about anything that is going to fly the flag for your business, pull yourself up short. Cheap, tacky business cards usually mean cheap, tacky photographs to a customer. Flat, boring, uninspiring websites mean flat, boring, uninspiring pictures. See a pattern emerging? It has to matter enough for you to make a proper job of it. It’s simply the final part of the formula: if your images are up to standard and you’re blessed with half a personality, the only thing stopping you from getting to that next level is your brand and the stuff that you use to tell people about you. Get that right and you can’t fail to be on the upward spiral of success, and we all know that’s where you deserve to be. Give it a try.
It’s true that gi rls just want to have fun, but the gu ys deserve a lo ok in too! Boudoir phot ography has lib erated the photogra phic world, pr oving that you don’t have to be a superm odel to look and feel fabulous in an y setting. Well, it’s tim e for the boys to get some attention – A spire’s brandnew Dudoir course will sh ow you how to capture the male form in al a boudoir shoo l its glory. It’s like t for him, only without the suspende rs. After all, a shoot can be racy without be ing lacy. More about th
is... next time!
Hey, just wanted to say a massive th ank you to you all changing experie for a potential life nce last week. I’ve been fortuna te enough to work for a few of the mo dynamic compan st exciting and ies in the world an d have had an extre career in sales. Sa mely successful dly in the last 2-3 ye ars it has just beco being a really mo tivated and drive me so dull, that n individual, it’s me to keep the old been really tough chin up. for I have had a sens e over the last ye ar or so that developing photographic sk ills could be my wa my y out and into so course, the conten mething new. Th t, the people last e week way exceed and has 100% co ed my expectatio nvinced me that ns setting up my ow doing something n business and that I love and co mbining it with my experience, is so business/sales the right thing for me to do.
I’ve been on so ma ny courses over th e years, which in so predictable an the main have be d boring. Withou en t question, last we have been one of ek’s course has to the best I have att ended, not only in but in the quality terms of content of the people that delivered it. Both and Jane) brough of you (Catherine t a huge level of pa ssi on and enthusias that I defy anyone m into the course not to be intense ly motivated. Ha in Tamara, Stewart ving the other ex and Richard simply perts gravitas to it all. ad ded an impressiv Having people wh e level of o are at the top of insight into why their game provide they are as succes sful as they are an us, was just a fan d sharing that wi tastic experience. th I have so much to think about now but the experienc absolutely given e of last week has me direction in ter ms of where I wa want to achieve. nt to go and what For that, I cannot I th ank you enough... Thomas has his mo jo back :-) Sadly Jane, it’s lik ely that I’ll be on the Bespoke cour but at least it gives se in the New Ye you some time to ar... run away. Thanks again an d hopefully catch up soon. Cheers, Tommy x
For more info or to book a course, talk to Mel on 01524 782200 www.aspirephotographytraining.co.uk