Community Discussion Topic: Pre-shoot Preparations

What’s your pre-shoot ritual? Sure, we all charge the batteries, format the cards and clean our lenses, but what else do you do to prepare yourself and your equipment for a shoot?

There are some who can’t feel prepared unless they know that they have been through a rigourous set of equipment checks: is it all working, is everything packed?

If you have a list you complete before each shoot share and discuss it with us over in the Ready Steady Pro community

In the usual way I’ve posted this video to kick off the question / discussion:

The idea behind these videos and scenarios is to encourage us to discuss what we would do if they were to happen to each of us as a photographer in business. Discussing as a community is sure to conjure up a vast array of responses, each of them different from one another. There may not always be one correct answer, but by talking about it I sincerely hope it will encourage us to give thought to our actions and better-equip us to deal with the things that this industry and our clients throw at us.

Community Discussion Topic: Increased Albums Costs

This is the first of a new series of videos I’ll be posting to the Ready Steady Pro community, asking questions and setting pretend (albeit very feasible) scenarios that we as working photographers could possibly have to contend with. The idea behind these questions and scenarios is to get every one talking about how they would handle the situation. The discussion, I hope, will stimulate us to think about our actions and will better-equip us to deal with what this industry and our clients will at some stage throw our way.

The first scenario I have for you is relating unexpected increased costs from your album supplier:

The question for those not able to view the video is this:

You’ve not sold an album for a short while now, but your most recent client has just placed an order with you. You then find that the album supplier has increased the cost of their products by 10%.

You speak to the supplier who tell you they’ve been communicating the price increase for months. You check your email and the updates from your supplier are in your Junk folder.

How do you deal with this scenario?

The idea behind these videos and scenarios is to encourage us to discuss what we would do if they were to happen to each of us as a photographer in business. Discussing as a community is sure to conjure up a vast array of responses, each of them different from one another. There may not always be one correct answer, but by talking about it I sincerely hope it will encourage us to give thought to our actions and better-equip us to deal with the things that this industry and our clients throw at us.

Clients are finding you via their mobile

I get emails all the time from odd email addresses claiming to offer ‘SEO services’. More recently though the emails i’ve been receiving have taken a more focussed attempt to question whether my site is mobile friendly.

The reason for this, just in case you didn’t know, is likely because on Tuesday 20th April 2015 Google decided to place a requirement on sites to be mobile friendly! Well, it’s not a requirement as far as your site will continue to work, but by not having a mobile friendly site your SEO rankings will be hampered and your search result rankings will drop!

For more information on what this is all about and for the official scoop direct from Google, you can check Google’s official announcement here. It’s a bit wordy and long-winded, so I’ve summarised the key points below for you below…

How Do I Know if I’m Mobile Friendly?

So, now that all sites need to be optimised for mobile too, how do we know whether we’re meeting the requirements Google are placing upon us? Simple, use the Google Mobile-Friendly Testing Site, right here:

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What do I need to do to become Mobile Friendly?

If you use the testing tool and find you’re not meeting the requirements to be deemed ‘Optimised for Mobile’ then you can also read some of the guidelines here on the WebMaster Blog. Just to give you the highlights though, the post says of optimising your site:

A page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

If you want to make sure that your page meets the mobile-friendly criteria:

  • Check your pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test
  • Read our updated documentation on our Webmasters Mobile Guide on how to create and improve your mobile site
  • See the Mobile usability report in Google Webmaster Tools, which highlights major mobile usability issues across your entire site, not just one page
  • Check our how-to guide for third-party software like WordPress or Joomla, in order to migrate your website hosted on a CMS (Content Management System) to use a mobile-friendly template

We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.

There are a whole host of other tips and advice on mobile-optimising your site, just head on over to Google’s dedicated micro-site to find out all about this thing!

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Am I mobile Friendly?

Yes I am! I’m fortunate enough to be with Squarespace, who have been mandating that all sites on the Squarespace platform were ready for this change to a mobile-oriented SEO boost. So, if you’re using Squarespace, provided you really haven’t managed to change your template too drastically or have disabled the Mobile-Friendly feature. Squarespace mention it all on their blog too:

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 00.07.40So, I hope you found this information useful and that you can get your SEO-led inquiries back on track!

Podcast 20 – An Interview with Damien Lovegrove

We’re back once again with another superb, open and insightful interview with another leading photographer. Today our guest is UK based photographer, trainer, teacher and writer; Damien Lovegrove

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I was keen to find a guest who had ‘been there, done that’ – someone with plenty of experience who could speak with conviction about the photography industry today. Recently, we’ve had discussions in the Ready Steady Pro Facebook community about how the industry seems to have changed in recent years, so I thought what better way to find out for sure than to have someone of Damien’s calibre and experience on the show.

Damien started his life with cameras (in a professional sense) by going to work for the BBC as a trainee camera operator, before working his way up. As you’ll hear in this interview Damien went on to leave the BBC, start an incredibly successful wedding photography business, which ran for 10 years before Damien conciously, and intentionally decided to change direction in order to get weekends and time back in his life. Damien bought a business consultant on board to aid in the change of career from photographer, to writer, to trainer.

Michael Says:

“I first came across Damien many years ago, when i first got into photography myself. In the UK, unlike the US & Australia, we don’t really have many ‘big names’ when it comes to well-known photographers. We have a few, but not many. Well, of the few we do have Damien almost certainly is one of them. I found Damien’s teaching style to be very accessible and easy to take on board, but Damien also shows with his work that he has conviction in what he teaches. Damien is a photographer who has ‘been there and done that’ and as a result was someone I knew would be an excellent guest for the show. I’m really pleased that Damien has agreed to join me to discuss his career share with us some of the things he knows…”

Damien speaks openly about having multiple, passive revenue streams and so much more. This interview is a real-must listen!

As well as all of the wisdom and knowledge shared, Damien was also very generous and shared a discount code offering all RSP listeners 50% off all videos on his website (see the link below).

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

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

  • Changing Careers
  • Passive Revenue Streams
  • Relationship with FujiFilm
  • Wedding Photography is a retail business

Today’s Little Gems

50% off all videos in Damien’s shop. Just enter ‘readysteady’ at the checkout.
Note: This is a one-time-use voucher and can be redeemed against one checkout transaction. If you would like to purchase multiple videos please purchase them at the same time using this voucher code to receive your 50% discount


Show Notes / Links


This weeks Hosts

Michael Rammell
Damien Lovegrove

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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