Debi Keable

We had a visit from Debi Keable to our class last week. She is a local artist, that attended Hull College who came to tell us about how she makes her living.

After finishing college Debi was invited to join something called the Hatch Scheme where new/young artists submit a realistic business plan and receive business support, accounting advice and studio space in order to kickstart their career.

The advice she had to give was very helpful. She recommended that we get to know the ‘art scene’ and attend as many events as possible, saying that once our name is known, further work will come our way. If we sign up to as many artist newsletters, websites and blogs as possible we will begin to know what is going on and be able to attend events. She said that even if we don’t feel like going out, we should make the effort and attend as you never know when a new contact may lead to work.

We were told about the Cartwheels Workshops (CERTA, Skills for Community Arts Work Course) which are hosted in Hull by Artlink. The eight week course enables you to run art and craft workshops and at the end you are included on a database that has provided Debi with work for groups all over Hull.

Other ideas that Debi suggested included crowdfunding for arts projects, approaching local businesses to help with materials and sponsorship and using social media and particularly Twitter for networking and linking with others.

I thought it was very useful to meet Debi and in response I have emailed Artlink to see if they know of anyone who provides the course on the Humber South Bank. I have also begun to follow Debi on Twitter and Instagram.

Sowden & Sowden

After taking the photos for the Freedom Festival website Anete Sooda and I were invited along to the offices of Sowden & Sowden, a full service and design agency that are marketing the Freedom Festival event. We spent an hour of so with Paul Sowden who showed us around the offices and chatted to us about what a marketing agency might look for in a photographer. Paul is a very experienced marketer who has worked in London and around the world choosing now to run a small organisation, based closer to home and in partnership with his daughter.

Paul began by explaining what Sowden’s does, which is everything from agreeing a brief, planning a campaign, delivering a campaign, brand management and internal campaigns that include staff motivation and continuous improvement. They are happy to work with small local businesses and schools as well as national and international companies recognising that people will only use their services if they can help them to make money.

If we are looking to work with an agency, Paul advised us to remember that the agency will want commercial photographs and not art photographs. He explained that we would need to meet a brief that would sometimes need to be interpreted because people don’t always want what they ask for. He said that we should meet the brief and then go the extra mile – advice that Tom Arran gave us a few months ago.

He said that we needed to be resilient and not to be offended if our work doesn’t match what the agency is looking for. Don’t cry over spilt milk, just go and find the people that we like working for and work with them.

We were told that we have got to make money at what we do. We were advised to charge for our work and then move on to the next job quickly. Repeat business is key but check out who we are doing work for. Many companies go bust, make sure they are capable of paying you before you do the work. Be hard nosed commercially, get credit references, especially when starting out and if they don’t pay, go to court as soon as you can. If they are procrastinating about paying you, they will be doing it with others and that is a sign that things are not going well with them.

Paul recommended that we build a financial reserve as quickly as possible. He told us to get money in the bank and don’t spend it. The job is risky enough without taking on too much debt and financial risk.

For each job we do Paul told us to prepare well. He said that if we were prepared we can use all of our brain power and skill on the job at hand and if we were good at the core skill of photography then we can use our brain power to develop our business.

Paul stated that agencies wanted reliable people to work with. He said that we should work hard and play hard, make it our lifestyle.

Finally Paul talked to us about specialising in a particular field. He said that we had got to be the best in our field as there is no room for second best. We have got to put ourselves out there and get so good that people will pay almost anything for our services. He told us to think about how we might be able to photograph like no one else has photographed before. Do what we like doing, focus and develop a way of thinking that is about solving problems.

It was a really interesting meeting and Paul had some great hints and tips for us. I used to work in a marketing office and recognised many of the things that he was talking about. Being in the office reminded me of the buzz I used to enjoy when I was running a full service and design office. Sadly the organisation changed and I ended up mostly writing press releases which was not my favourite part of the job. I left and took on this photography degree, partly, to add another string to bow.

This visit has made me wonder if I would like to return to a marketing environment. I think I might have a look around at what is available and see if I there is some way I can combine both marketing and photography.


Wedding Tags

This weekend I took the official photos at a friend’s wedding. I thought it would be a good opportunity to promote myself and perhaps make a little money through the sale of the photos.

It was quite a large wedding with over 250 invited guests so I needed to find an affordable solution. In the end I decided to create some half size business cards that showed the web address of where guests could see the official wedding photos. They were sized at 85cm x 27.5cm and printed on both sides on standard business card stock of 300gsm. If I was paid for photographing a wedding I would include the cost of textured, embossed or even laminated cards in my fee but as I was photographing voluntarily on this occasion I kept things basic.

The cards were designed in Illustrator using the purple and blue branding that I have chosen and included a photograph of the couple that I took at their engagement. I had them printed at KallKwik in Hull.

WeddingTags_Bus Card Insert Front
Wedding Tag

The cards were left casually on tables and available on a table by the door near a basket of wedding favours for guests to collect on their way out.

The cards seemed to go very well. At one point I went around the room and gave out some cards personally; they were well received with several people saying that they looked forward to seeing the official photos. Only one person gave the card back to me saying “you haven’t taken my photo so I won’t take a card.”

Because I knew there were going to be a lot of guests at the wedding I had 200 cards printed. I had a lot left over so in the future I think I will only need to have enough cards printed for just over half of the guests. Many of the guests at weddings are couples or families and only need one card between them.

I designed the cards with 3mm of bleed all around them but they have been cut very closely to some of the words, possibly because of the way that the printer laid out multiple copies before he printed them.

I also needed to proof read the cards a little more thoroughly as I have since found an error in the phone number on the cards.