Podcast 19 – An Interview with Rahim Mastafa of SugarboxStudios

Following on from the successful return of the podcast with episode 18 – This episode finds us picking the brains of Cardiff based Sports Portrait Photographer Rahim Mastafa of SugarBoxStudios.

10923060_10153215662107580_1195636944_o

Today’s interview is something a little different from Ready Steady Pro. The Ready Steady Pro Community and a large body of the listeners are, as you may expect, Wedding and Portrait Photographers. But, Rahim, who describes himself as a Sports Portrait Photographer, photographs – as you’d expect – sportsmen and women, Personal Trainers, Bodybuilders and even Olympic Athletes!

Even if you’re not into Portraiture or if your immediate reaction is that this episode won’t be relevant to you – think again. The fact that we’re talking about a slightly different niche to usual makes this episode no-less relevant to you as Rahim gives us a wonderful insight into his working strategy that includes almost exclusively using social media (Instagram and Facebook in particular) and practically forgoing a website and a blog. This unorthodox approach probably wouldn’t be the advice of many experienced business coaches, but Rahim is going against the grain and this approach is gaining him clients…fast! Despite only having gotten into this niche some 18 months ago and only picking up a camera around 2 years ago Rahim is making his own success and gaining traction and notoriety that many would take a decade to achieve.

Michael says:

“I first came across Rahim when he joined the RSP community on Facebook and saw that he was shooting something slightly different to most – sports, fitness and body building. It was interesting and refreshing to see something new in my news feed. But more than that though Rahim’s personality comes across very well on Social Media and that is something that isn’t always easy to achieve, even if you are being yourself and being genuine. When I saw Rahim post a selfie outside a David Lloyd Gym telling us he had just finished a meeting with them I was intrigued – Rahim seemed like a go-getter who hunted down business and ‘Hustled’. I had to know more and so I invited him on the show. I expected Rahim to be a great guest…but he exceeded my expectations!”

Be sure to stick around to the end to find out how you can appear on the show and get involved and also to hear some shout outs to those who have left iTunes reviews!

You really do need to have your notepad to hand, because the gems are dropped thick and fast in this episode!

Links to most of what is mentioned in this episode can be found below in the ‘Show Notes’ section

Here’s some more of Rahim’s work and be sure to check him out on Social Media where you can find more of his work.

Sit back and enjoy this episode of Ready, Steady Pro! Click the link below to listen / download the podcast.


View In iTunes
Click here to listen to the Podcast
Download this Podcast as an MP3
Watch the Interview on YouTube here
The RSS Feed for this Podcast is: http://readysteadypro.libsyn.com/rss


This weeks Topic

  • Fitness, Sports & Body Building Photography
  • Getting business and finding clients
  • Simple lighting setups make for a better client experience
  • Viral Social Media Strategies – Working where your clients are hanging out online
  • Not really needing or using a website or blog
  • Working for Free
  • Setting up shoots and creating opportunities

Today’s Little Gems

Rahim’s advice this week was simply to go out and make it happen. Organise shoots and fulfill them. Work for free when needed to get a portfolio. Send photographs to magazines and newspapers. Do what it takes to get yourself known and just do the work. We make our own success and we create our own opportunities – so no excuses: go out and do it!


Show Notes / Links


This weeks Hosts

Michael Rammell
Rahim Mastafa

Keeping In Touch – Utilise Your Clients

It has been said before on many episodes of The Ready Steady Pro Podcast that you should be keeping a database of your past clients. Having the contact information of all of your previous clients (or, current clients rather) allows you to reach out and contact them directly. After all, you’ve worked with them already and you are now a known quantity to them – You already have that relationship with them and they will be more open and receptive to you than they would be to a generic marketing email from some other photographer. Just because you’ve shot their wedding and it’s been and gone doesn’t mean the door is closed to opportunities. There are so many ways and chances to reach out to those clients once again and leverage more business and continue the relationship.

Keeping In Touch

A good example of this is what I do around New Years: I would usually reach out to clients via email – a personalised message written specifically for them, referring to their wedding day, containing a few images and basically thanking them for allowing me to photograph their wedding or event that past year. I would tell them how much fun it was to be their photographer and how much I enjoyed it. In previous years I have also included a 10% referral discount at the bottom of the email (usually a code for them to pass on to a friend or family member) and also a discount for them if they would like some other photography doing (family shoot, lifestyle, portrait etc). There would be relevant links to the website for each of these services as well. The email of course makes it as easy for them to get in touch as possible – email, telephone numbers, links etc are all included everywhere within the email it’s appropriate.

Some photographers and business go as far as to send chocolates or flowers and gifts at Christmas time too. If you think this is more appropriate then go for it! Whatever you feel works for you and would most successfully achieve the goal of getting more business.

It all sounds like a lot of effort though…

It may sound like a lot of work having to type out personalised and individual emails for each client that past year, particularly if you’re already fortunate enough to have had a fair few clients, but this year was slightly different for me…

I was so unwell over Christmas and New Year recovering from Pneumonia and then having to put up with a condition called Pleurisy that I was just drained of energy. I didn’t have the get up and go to type over 20 individual emails to clients. So instead, from my sick-bed, I simply sent them all text messages. Nice and simple.

I wished them a wonderful New Years, told them to have fun if they were out celebrating, stay warm, stay safe and all the best for 2015. The messages were very short and sweet (it was a text after all). It didn’t need to be much – just enough to let them know I was around and thinking of them at this time of year and sending them a pleasant little message. I’m sure none of them expected it.

So, when one client told me her sister was getting married and that she will pass on my details I was very pleased. Then another client replied to say that she would be getting in touch in the new year about making an album.

IMG_3465

Bonus!

Extra Tip

Remember – when adding links to emails etc use Bitly. You can create custom links for each email (if you want) and track the clicks to see if your campaign is actually working. It’s well worth doing and having some visibility over the success of your efforts.

Now It’s Down To Me

Now, the ball is back in my court of course – I have to chase these up and see them through, but for 15 – 20 minutes work (from bed!) I’ve got 2 solid leads that could make the business some money in 2015.

It was an exercise well worth my time if you ask me.

And hey, even neither of these leads come off – I’m still the nice guy who wished them well and reminded them I still exist. It’s a win/win.

It’s a Timely Exercise

This sort of exercise is timely though. If you’re going to reach out to clients and wish them well for the new year you’re going to want to do it soon. It’d be odd if they received a message late in January as it may seem like an after thought. Just do this now. If their numbers are in your phones just take some time to message them. If you store details in files sit down on the sofa tonight and get in touch with them. Better still if you’re making use of a system such as LightBlue all of the contact details you need should be to hand

Join The Conversation On Social Media

Come and join the Ready Steady Pro community over on Facebook. It’s thriving and all of these topics and more are discussed in great detail by the almost 400-strong group.

Happy New Year!

So, happy new year from all of us here at Ready Steady Pro. May 2015 be a successful one and if you’re aiming to transition to full-time, may 2015 be the year you do it successfully! Good luck everyone!

Podcast 18 – An Interview with Neil Buchan-Grant

It’s not every day that you get to spend a day with the British Press Travel Photographer of the Year, but that’s just what I did on a sunny Saturday in June.

I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down to talk about all sorts with the one and only Neil Buchan-Grant; British Press Travel Photographer of the Year, Olympus Ambassador and all-round nice guy.

1901546_10153329623489899_7856027988391111082_n

This conversation was long-in-the works. I actually first came across Neil’s work almost by accident and very much unknowingly: Whilst looking at all of the mirrorless cameras on the market to see what they were all about I found an advert from Olympus in a photography magazine; it was to promote an offer they had on one of their OM-D cameras and the photograph that accompanied this advert was of an extremely beautiful young lady, photographed in black and white. She is wearing a masquerade mask and is beautifully lit in a soft and pleasing way. It’s an amazing photograph and really caught my eye.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was the work of Neil Buchan-Grant. But I didn’t know it at that stage.

As my research into mirrorless continued I then found a blog post, titled: “Shooting in New York with the Olympus OMD EM1” showing off some more of Neil’s work. I wasn’t just mesmorised because the photographs were amazing, I was truly taken aback by the fact they were made with an Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera. Now, after having picked one up myself I’m not surprised at all as to what they’re capable of, but non-the-less and camera aside Neil’s work continues to really impress me and has set a new benchmark in my eyes. “I have to interview this guy!” I thought.

Then I heard Neil was going to be at the UK Photography Show and arranged an Interview. That wasn’t to be however – Our paths didn’t cross owing to different schedules on the day. So eventually Neil and I arranged a day in the summer where I travelled to Winchester to Neil’s house to meet the man himself and chew the fat. This interview features so many insights into the way Neil has earned his photographic success so far, including entering competitions and just putting himself out there and getting things done. What I really took away from this conversation was that if you want to achieve something, anything, you have to go out and do it. We talk about this and so much more, which is why this episode is around 2 hours long – so you may end up listening in parts, but it’s all worth it from start to finish.

Links to most of what is mentioned in this episode can be found below in the ‘Show Notes’ section

Here’s some more of Neil’s work and be sure to check out his website which features even more amazing photographs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sit back and enjoy this episode of Ready, Steady Pro! Click the link below to listen / download the podcast.


View In iTunes
Click here to listen to the Podcast
The RSS Feed for this Podcast is: http://readysteadypro.libsyn.com/rss


This weeks Topic

  • Travel Photography
  • Olympus Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Cameras
  • Entering Competitions
  • Printing
  • Getting your work out there
  • Working with models
  • Practise, craft and perfection

An Interview with Steve Saporito


Today’s Little Gems

http://buchangrant.com/


Show Notes / Links


This weeks Hosts

Michael Rammell
Neil Buchan-Grant

Targeted Marketing

On The Tube in London, and other city undergrounds you will see adverts pasted inside the trains. Adverts for:

  • Headache relief
  • Hair loss
  • Holidays
  • Flu & Cold Remedies

There are more than just the above categories of adverts of course, but isn’t that list above some of the most targeted marketing available?

Thousands of people commute via the tube each and every day. The commute can be long, hot and cramped. It can be exhausting, it can give people headaches and stress people out. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out. It’s enough to make you think ‘I need a holiday‘ – the solutions to all of these things are advertised mere feet away from the people in need of them. The adverts are placed strategically knowing that people will need them, or, at least be open to suggestion when they see a solution to a headache.

When thinking about marketing are you trying to get your brand in front of as many people as possible or are you targeting your advertising to your future clients? The positioning of the marketing is arguably more important than the reach of the marketing.

Give that some thought get the next time you post fliers around your local area, or the next time you take out an ad in a local shop. Perhaps try looking at the most affluent area available near you, perhaps look at advertising in baby and children’s magazines (if that’s your thing).

Think specific. Then perhaps you’ll have less of that ‘they’re not my kinda client’ thing going on if you’re marketing to ‘your kinda client’.

Where do you market yourself and what have you found successful? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

FREE Webinar: 6 Secrets to a Profitable Wedding and Portrait Business

Join Steve Saporito, Bryan Caporicci and Jeff Jochum as they share with you their 6 Secrets to a profitable Wedding and Portrait Business in this absolutely FREE Webinar on Tuesday 25th @ 9PM (if you’re UK based).

These three guys have an absolute wealth of knowledge between them when it comes to this industry which can often feel like a minefield. So, let them help you navigate it! In this Webinar they promise to teach you:

  1. 6 Strategies to implement that will transform your photography business
  2. The biggest mistakes you are making when dealing with your clients
  3. Why clients are saying you’re “Expensive”

Screen-Shot-2014-11-22-at-8.48.30-pm

2015 will see me transition from the day job into full time photography and some of the most sage advice I’ve been given came from Steve Saporito himself. Steve taught me perhaps the most valuable lesson I’ve learnt as a photographer so far. It sounds like a simple one, but I’ll tell you for free that it’s the most powerful tool I have when it comes to booking clients. Steve told me: “You just have to care”. I instantly adopted this approach even more, taking on board the other things that Steve said and really listened to my clients. I asked them questions about them, how they felt about one another, how they met and really showed a genuine interest in their answers. I started to connect with my clients on a new level and through that I was able to start booking more clients AND at higher averages than before. It’s not a jedi mind trick, it’s not neuro linguistic programming: as Steve says – You just have to care! If, in that one nugget of information Steve has helped me to book more clients and increase my average from £650 per client to over £1,000, then that tells me that this is a Webinar that I must tune into. And so should you!

You may remember our very own interview with Steve from Episode 17 of the Ready Steady Pro Podcast – which has proven to be the most popular download to date with well over 1,000 downloads more than the second most popular episode. If you liked what you heard in that interview, then you’re going to love what Steve has to say in this Webinar. (Did I mention it’s free?)

So, sign up to the webinar now – places are limited so be sure to book your place.

Photography Q&A with Davie Hudson

As part of the Ready Steady Pro Q&A Series we ask photographers from all backgrounds, niches and skill levels to answer 5 questions for the blog. This week, we hear from Davie Hudson of DavieHudsonPhotography.biz

me (2) (1)

About Davie:

I’m a 43 year old landscape/outdoors lifestyle photographer from Dundee in Scotland. My weekdays are taken up being a Machine Shop supervisor though i hope to be fully pro in 2015.Having asked so many other guests these 5 questions, here are my own responses:

Question 1: What’s the one single thing that has had the largest positive impact on your photography so far?

A few years ago now i had a rare day off work and a new camera…. A fuji superzoom. As I had a full tank of petrol I decided to drive up the A9 towards Inverness to see what i could shoot. It was heading towards mid morning so a coffee was most definitely in order so i pulled into a layby, which on that road are all numbered, this being 76…. I turned my head to the left and the sight I saw changed my life forever and cemented my resolve to be a landscape photographer.

glen etive road3 (1)

Question 2: If you could start over again from scratch, what would be the one thing you would do differently?

At the moment I think everything is going well so no major mistakes have been made yet …. I would possibly have changed to digital sooner as film developing wasn’t my strongpoint.

Calendar 14

Question 3: Who is the most influential photographer to you, and why? (Or, Which photographer do you admire the most, and why?)

I have 2 really Ansel Adams and Peter Lik… Mr Adams because literally he is the boss, there is still to be anyone better at tonal contrast in B&W, coupled with the fact he had a true passion for his environment and that shows in his photographs. Peter Lik is a different kettle of fish all together… he is a bit hit and miss in that when he’s good he is amazing but he also has the ability to be average. What i most admire about him is his marketing acumen, he is a master of getting the most benefit from what he has.

glen etive road4 (1)

 

Question 4: If you able to give just one piece of advice to someone just starting out in their photographic career, what would it be?

Be you own quality control, never let anyone tell you what to like … If you like the picture and it means something to you then thats all you need. Also only ever show your best … we all have a pile of rubbish but no one EVER sees them.

glen etive road18

 

Question 5: Paint a picture: What is the one thing / place / person you would love to photograph and why? It can be a person or a moment from history. As part of this answer also tell us about what gear you’d use, what lighting, what looks, wardrobes, poses and expressions you’d make use.

I would love to photograph American National parks in Winter to capture the magnificence of Yosemite in the footsteps of Mr Adams. As for gear, you could give me a smart phone in that situation and I’d be happy.

If you want to know more about me, see my work, or get in touch I’m on pretty much everything on the web:

Website: www.daviehudsonphotography.biz
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dundeedavie

Don’t forget you can also post in the comments section below, or join the fun over in the Ready Steady Pro Facebook Community

Would you like to take part in photography Q&A? Send us an email with your answers to the 5 questions and it could appear on this blog too! More details can be found on the Q&A Page

Photographers: Are you Investing or just Spending

Originally featured over on Michael Rammell’s blog. You can check out the original post right here: http://www.michaelrammell.com/blog/spending-or-investing


Part of the journey of becoming a photographer nearly always includes buying way too much gear, spending too much money and then realising you need a whole different set of equipment and then buying it all again. It just seems to be one of those check boxes people tick first when they’re on their way.

However, this process of replacing all our gear all too often becomes a cycle: We upgrade from our mid-range DSLR to a top of the range DSLR. Then from there we add more new lenses. Then a new model of our camera is released and so we ‘upgrade’ yet again. This goes on and on. This of course isn’t just something that happens in the world of photography though, I’m sure chef’s, cyclists, car lovers and so many other markets have the same cycle too. It’s all a result of great marketing by those companies: to drive desire for their products and to create a perception of need. This is especially the case in the world of photography though. We all want to be better photographers and make photographs that our clients AND our fellow photographers will admire and one of the ways these companies convince us we can do that is by spending more money on their products.

Whilst this is all good and we are all welcome to spend our own money on whatever we want, what I see missing in some people is the business-mindset: are you running your photography as a business? Or are you just spending money on stuff and telling others and yourself it’s all for the business

Those constant upgrades may make you happy, but are they good for business? Do they bring in more profit? It’s time to curb the gear lust and think about whether that new mark 2 body or macro lens is really good for business.

Are you spending money or investing money?

It’s completely up to us as photographers what we spend our money on. It’s not my place to tell you that the third camera body is not an investment and it’s certainly not up to me to stop you from spending money. The idea of this post today is urge you think more like a business (if you are in the business of photography) and to consider whether that thing you’re about to buy is worth it.

So, why is it that photographers spend so much on gear? Why is it that we believe that spending that extra £1,000 on something will make us immeasurably or even noticeably different? More importantly though the questions any working photographer should be asking themselves when buying new gear are:

  1. “Will it earn me more money?”
  2. “Will the client notice the difference between now and with the new thingy”
  3. (“Will the client pay more when I use the new thingy?”)
  4. “Will it make my job faster, thus saving me money?”
  5. “Will it add a unique selling point to me, my business or my work that no other photographer has?”

When it comes to lenses and camera bodies, the answer in most cases to all of the above questions is simple: No.

That upgrade for the 70-200 is not likely to actually make you more money next year vs the amount you could make with your existing 70-200. Furthermore, I doubt the client will notice the difference between the two lenses either on the day when you’re using them, or, in the resulting photographs.

Now, there is of course another question and that is “Will this purchase make me happy?” and the answer to that question is almost always ‘Yes’, at least to begin with. Then that piece of gear becomes a part of the bag and then settles into it’s place as ‘Just another piece of gear’. Often this is where we fall down, we have those 5 logical questions I mention above, but we disregard them all and place the purchase of that new shiny thing under the ‘It will make me happy’ category.

If you want to make more money as a photographer you need to increase your prices, be more profitable or shoot for more clients (all of those can work in combination too of course) so if that is the ultimate goal; if we are looking to build a sustainable livelihood and pay our bills, we need to be serious and responsible with our spending and think with our business heads, not our gear-lusting hearts. Sure, on occasion it will get the better of us and we’ll buy something we don’t necessarily need but have wanted, but that’s the nature of being in the world of photography: we’re attracted to tech, gadgets, glass and all that other stuff.

Diminishing Returns

Now, all of this said there will be purchases and upgrades that solve our problems and enable us to better realise our creativity, and that’s fine also, but the best way I’ve ever heard this put was by David DuChemin, who talks about upgrades as ‘Diminishing Returns’ – the idea that the huge outlay you’re about to make for an upgrade, will get you a very small and disproportionate improvement. David and I spoke about this for Ready Steady Pro Episode 16 and David also spoke about this extensively in what was one of his favourite blog posts, titled ‘Towards Mastery, Again’.

David Says:

But isn’t it possible we’ve passed the point of diminishing returns and our hunger for gear is outpacing our hunger for beauty, compelling stories, great light, and amazing moments?

So, whilst I don’t want to offer any strict ‘advice’ with this post, or guidelines or suggestions for that matter, all I want to do is get you to think about whether that new camera, lens, tripod etc is actually solving a problem for you. Will it help you to produce noticeably better photographs to those who pay you? Are you investing money in your photography business for the benefit of your product? (your photographs) or are you just lusting over gear and using being a professional photographer as a cover to justify the purchase?

Either way is fine, but please give it some thought.

As always, comments, criticism, thoughts and feedback welcome. You know what to do: just leave a comment below