6 questions to ask yourself

My goal is always to help you tell your story. I do that by being Clear, Professional and Effective. And asking lots of questions…here’s a few to start you thinking.

Start thinking about your business (questions 1 & 2). Then think about your customers (questions 3 & 4). Finally think about how you can connect these two things through your images (questions 5 & 6).

  1. How do you want to be seen?
  2. What aspects of your business can be photographed?
  3. What do your customers want to see?
  4. What might make them buy from you?
  5. What should you be taking pictures of?
  6. What style of photography might work well for you?

If you are not sure ask your existing customers, look at what your competitors in the context of the questions above. Alternately come along to the next Training for Business course. Aims of the course are to answer those questions. We do that while working on the quality of your phone photography.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite. Click on the link.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/photography-training-for-business-t4b3-tickets-59689108731

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Not my day job…

So I have been promising some cuddly animal photos since I got back from the wedding I shot at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, so here you are. Some of them aren’t quite so cuddly.

It was a bit of a break from the normal day to day and I won’t be shooting for National Geographic anytime soon…I would need a bigger lens for a start, but it was great fun and there were lots of photographic challenges with the bright light and strong shadows. Not something we regularly need to deal with in Scotland, but ideal practice for the wedding.

If anyone is interested in any of the pictures check out www.clairewatson.co.uk for prints or digital files.

Please help! I love Mondays…

…but I’m not a fan of the end of the week and I’m not sure what to do about it. So any tips and advice would be much appreciated.

I’m starting to think it is a self-employed issue. I used to be normal. Well okay not particularly normal but I used to have a five day work week with the first working day being bad and the last day great then two days off. Now, it’s much more complicated.

Why is it a problem? Well loving Monday is great. I start the week with the feeling of anything’s possible, but by the end of the week I always feel I’m chasing my tail and haven’t achieved half of what I had planned. The result is I feel I have to work through the weekend there are no days off. Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure.

I do feel stressed about the idea of working through the weekend, but it’s common for photography so why does it bother me? Is it just social conditioning? Other people’s expectations? And it’s not like I don’t spend a lot of time training (fitness) through the week, so my work life balance isn’t that bad. It’s the lack of structure I think that I have the issue with at sometimes…I almost feel like I spend more time remembering all the things I have to do that actually doing them.

So this is my small business blog asking for advice from all you busy people. How do you manage your time and commitments to make sure everything gets done and you don’t feel that it is all too much?

All advice and ideas are very welcome!

Why family photos are awesome!!!

I love photographs. Just as well I decided to be a photographer, isn’t it?

Images connect us to our past. They inspire us and show us who we are and where we came from, so not lots of words on this post…but maybe a few of tears.

This is the start of a personal project for me. My mum has asked me to collect all the family photos and scan them in to make them available to everyone in the family. I’m really looking forward to it, because it lets me learn about some amazing people that I never got a chance to meet.

People like my great grandfather, my gran’s father.

He lied to the army so he could sign up for the First War. His is him on his horse when he was between 14-18 years old.
He lied to the army so he could sign up for the First War. This is him on his horse when he was between 14-18 years old.

Or my grandpa’s father and his grandparents.

My great-grandfather and great-great-grandparents in 1918.
My great-grandfather and great-great-grandparents in 1918.

My grandparents wedding (mum’s side).

The joining of the Saddler Noble clans.
The joining of the Saddler Noble clans.

Or my dad’s dad, who died before my parents started dating.

My grandfather on my dad's side.
My grandfather on my dad’s side.

Printing photographs might not seem so important in these days of camera phones and digital files, but they are. Especially because it’s a lot easier to lose digital files than actual prints. Framed family portraits are beautiful things that you will keep forever, so don’t delay, time stops for no one. Do something special for you mum on mother’s day.

It doesn’t have to be with me, but get some beautiful family portraits done. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Mother's Day Voucher 02.03.2013 onlineTo arrange a shoot or order a voucher give me a call on 07763092221 or email clairewatsonphotography@yahoo.com with your name, the address to send the voucher to and any additional information you would like included, like your mum’s name.
T&Cs available on request.

 

 

 

Rewarding yourself for hard work?

I was just working on my other blog for my challenge for this year which is to complete Celtman, an ironman type distance extreme triathlon (yes I am a wee bit mental…but in a good way, honest!). If you want to find out more about what I’m doing you can check out the blog here or go the the race website here. It’s going to be an amazing challenge and I will be raising money for both The Rock Trust and SAMH, but that’s not why I wanted to put it up here.

As part of my training, blogging process I’m taking regular pictures to see how my body changes. I thought before and after images would be a great way to demonstrate the results of all that hard work. I don’t mean the faked, Photoshopped images you see in magazines and online. I mean true representations of what happens when you start using your body how it’s meant to be used, instead of what it becomes when you live behind a desk and in front of a TV (e.g. what I’ve been doing for the last 4 months).

You know yourselves when you see someone everyday you don’t really notice them losing weight or putting on muscle and we are often even harsher on ourselves.  So my suggestion to you is why not reward yourself, or someone you love, with a photo shoot at the end of your training programme. This is not just about the girls…boys you deserve some rewards too! It can include a makeover and new clothes or maybe you just want to see the difference between you in your workout kit before and after it’s up to you. Think of it as added motivation.

I started this idea rolling with Tracy at Griffen Fitness and Marcus at Combat Ready (both in Edinburgh) back in December, but then got side tracked by other developments with the projects, and obviously Christmas and New Year, so I’m just coming back to it now.

I’d love to hear what you think, if it’s something you would be interested in doing or know someone who does. Also as it’s a new project for me I’m looking for a couple of models (by that I mean normal people to model) so the first couple of people to get in touch and who would be happy to be used in my promotional materials are likely to get their shoots for free. Something to think about.

If you live anywhere in central Scotland including Edinburgh, Glasgow and the surrounding areas and are interested in hearing more email me at clairewatsonphotography@yahoo.com or even better give me a call 07763092221 (and there is always Facebook and Twitter too).

Sleep Out 2012

Working with great people always makes me happy, so last week I was really pleased to be working with the Rock Trust again. The Rock Trust is a great charity based in Edinburgh. They do inspirational work helping young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. To find out more about what they do check out their new website, featuring some of my previous work for them.

Last week’s event was Sleep Out 2012. The Sleep Out is a nationwide event organised by a network of youth homeless charities, including the Rock Trust, who are working together to host the UK’s first national fundraising event to support homeless and disadvantaged young people.

Different events were held around the country, but I think that Scotland probably had the best backdrop. The Rock Trust event was held in Festival Square with the Usher Hall and Castle providing the scenery. It was the first year that they have held the event in it’s new format, at that venue, so it was my job to capture the feeling of the event to help with next year’s promotion.

Great fun was had by all (probably not the main point) and hopefully it has got a lot more people thinking about homelessness. If you are interested in learning more about helping young people in Edinburgh and the Lothians contact the Rock Trust to see how you can help (there are lots to things you can do beyond just handing over cash).

Here’s the highlights…

Futures in the Arts…

…why personal projects are fun and important. 

I had the opportunity to contribute to our local arts festival, the Biggar Little Festival, biggART exhibition at the Gillespie Centre. It did leave me with a bit of a quandary. What to exhibit? 

I haven’t had time this year for a lots of photos for fun or personal projects, so I had a think about how I could combine all my different hats.

Hat 1 How could I promote the business? Having decided on family and wedding photography as the core of my business in November last year, how could I get my name out in the local community more?

Hat 2 How could I keep and spread the positive happy feelings I was left with after volunteering at the Olympics and watching the Paralympics? 

Hat 3 As a member of the festival organising committee how can I help to bring in a younger demographic to the festival?

So the ‘Futures in the Arts’ project is what I came up with… 

“The ‘Futures in the Arts’ is a portraiture photography project. It has been designed to incorporate a number of different events and organizations. First and foremost is the Biggar Little Festival, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. For those unfamiliar with it the festival, its goal is to promote the arts and talent in the local area and as it gets into its 10th year there is a desire within the festival to broaden its appeal and links with the local community. This links directly into Biggar High School’s long history of developing young people who go on to be very successful in the creative industries. In the past there have been photography projects that have celebrated the older statesmen of the community but with the inheritance left by the Olympic and Paralympic games this project aims to capture the potential future successes of young people in the arts.”

It has been an amazing project to work on both personally and professionally. The guys who took part in the project were so positive and full of ideas on how they wanted to style their shoots, as well as being open to my ideas, that I couldn’t help but be impressed by their maturity and professionalism, for lack of a better word. I have now done photo shoots in barns, school halls, fields, bedrooms…not to mention the Usher Hall. Lots of great practise at dealing with different lighting situations and characters that I have to thank everyone involved from the teachers, parents, the Head Master but most of all the young people themselves, as working with them was definitely my highlight.

Unfortunately, there was just too much talent available, so I ended up with 11 portraits and someone had to be left out (10 portraits for the 10th anniversary). It was a choice between two drummers and James lost out because I preferred the lighting in the other picture, so here he is. He may have avoided being hung on a wall but he won’t avoid internet fame 😉 

Image

…so why should we do personal projects as photographers (or indeed in any profession), because they challenge us. They inspire us and remind us of why we love what we do. And finally because they make us step out of our comfort zones and see what is possible when you try something different.

I don’t know about you, but I love a challenge.

All the leaves me to do is give my thanks to all the staff and pupils at Biggar High School and to let you know that the final 10 portraits are on show as part of biggART the runs from Monday 15th to Sunday 21st October in the Gillespie Centre, High Street, Biggar.

 

Tired and self-indulgent…

Too many ideas…not enough time to think about them is my current issue, which has led me to have a bit of a bi-polar week. Often I find myself flying high buoyed but the fantastic people I’ve met and great opportunities that present themselves only to come crashing down again with the realisation of how much work needs to be done and there just isn’t enough time to do it within the time frame I’ve set myself.

Don’t get me wrong I have no interest in a quiet life and everything just cruising along…which is just as well as I’ve spent the last 15years of my life going out of my way to avoid it, but this week has been exhausting and even as I write this my brain is listing things that I have run out of time to complete and I can feel a night of grinding my teeth, followed by waking up with a headache, to come.

It’s a weird feeling. Does anyone else get it? I know I should go to bed but I’m almost loathed to because it is like admitting defeat. It’s like saying I will get nothing else done tonight. It doesn’t matter that I know I will suffer from it tomorrow…at this precise moment in time staying up and working is delaying the start of another week, which already has it’s own list of tasks and deadlines. Saying that I will be fine when Monday comes.

This also may sound odd but I love Mondays…Monday is full of opportunities…I think “This week I will get through everything”…”This week things will be different” and sometime they are, but at others are not. I find these weeks, like the one whose minutes are ticking away as I type, very hard. These are the weeks when I spend the weekend with a low grade headache and a sense of doom…I’m getting mellow dramatic again…that’s what comes of writing blog posts approaching midnight on Sunday nights, but this is defiantly better therapy than anything else I could think of so you’ll just have to indulge me.

Oh well 10 minutes to midnight I’d better admit defeat, 6 am will come round all to quickly.

I will leave you on a more positive note thou. I’m thinking of the following for future posts…let me know which sounds the most interesting;

  1. How do you value your time?
  2. Business to business how do we treat our peers and how does that reflect our personal successes and failures.
  3. Who are photographers ads designed to impress? Customers or other photographers?
  4. How do you want to pay for wedding photography?
  5. Maternity photography…the best present you can give.
  6. Portraits…positive happy space.
  7. Planning, planning and more planing!

Vote on Facebook or Twitter for what would interest you the most.

Portraits, who you are or who you want to be?

The blog has been a bit wedding and engagement heavy of late so I think it’s time to look at other parts of the business. I never set out to do only wedding photography. I know photographers are regularly told they have to do one thing but that doesn’t fit with my philosophy.

I want to be a family photographer. I want to develop longterm relationships with you, meaning that I start to get to know you from your engagement shoots and weddings. Then later when you start families or celebrate anniversaries I want to be there to record those events, helping you look back on those cherished, precious and fleeting moments in life that make our spirits soar. Pictures, that when you’re feeling down or having a bad day, you can look at and smile.

Having not been lucky enough to have gone down those paths yet I fall back on my travels and pictures like this one…

I had this as one of my business cards for a while because it always makes me smile…obviously not from a health and safety perspective, but it does look like awesome fun.

I was in Siem Reap in Cambodia on holiday and they had just had the worst flooding in years, businesses were underwater and the town was having rolling blackouts…but I’ve never met a group of people who embodied ‘if live gives you lemons, make lemonade’ quite like the Khmer…if you know the history they’ve had quite a few lemons. This little boy just embodied joy…when else could you be towed round the streets of your town behind a motorbike on a tray. I can feel all the parents out there shudder, but imagine being able to feel that happiness and freedom of having no idea of consequences.

This picture serves as a life lesson for me, lots of the best things in life come with the possibility of negative consequences but I always tell myself just think of the rewards. And what is the alternative being trapped by fear and negativity…not that I’m recommending for one minute that we all go out and get dragged behind motorbikes on trays 😉

To bring this back to portraits, what I want to do is translate this philosophy into my images. I want to make people feel free and happy. To try and capture them without the walls that we put up to protect ourselves, living in that moment, not worrying if you look silly. From the openness and joy that a child sees the world to the sensuality of a pregnant woman or the love and quiet strength of a husband and father looking at his family. We all have it in us. I strongly believe it is just a case of allowing it to be seen.

There is so much beauty and strength to be seen in everyone and the more I get to know people the more able I am to create pictures that represent both who they are as well as who they want to be, so it is not a choice between the two but a labour of love to achieve both.

Paul Caponigro said, “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are. ”

By getting to know you through the years I hope to make this a reality…oooh that got a we bit evangelical again. To mellow out the mood here’s another fab wee boy…

…made you smile. 😉