Just a girl with a camera
I get lots of lovely emails asking about how I started my photography business and how I go about finding my photography work.
So I thought I would share a little story from this week about my trip to London to work for Leon Restaurants.
Leon are a dream client. Their style is dynamic, colourful and the team spirit ethos shines through their staff. Working with them doesn't feel like work. Their Marketing Manager had read my blog and contacted me about taking some photos last year and I was delighted to be asked back again this year to photograph a new restaurant that has just opened at Victoria Place and focus on their healthy, fast food at their restaurant at Bankside.
As I walked down the bustling street towards the Bankside restaurant on Tuesday, I passed several other eateries, one who had set up for a photo shoot. I slowed down a little to take it all in.
The giant reflector screens on a perfectly overcast Autumn day, the models in co-ordinated "casual outfits" who were being told to look at the laptop in front of them naturally and smile.
For a second it made me feel a little nervous, that I was heading next door to capture exactly the same sort of shots but in a totally different way, without the set up, the "customers" being paid to look happy, but any nerves evaporated as I was met by the Marketing Manager with a huge hug.
She had noticed the set up as well and when I said "Goodness have you seen what's going on down the street?!" she replied, "Yes, and that's why we hire you."
That's quite possibly the most wonderful compliment I have had as a photographer and I got behind my lens and started snapping.
Capturing restaurant customers is tricky. We don't tend to smile when we eat, no one looks good chewing or about to eat a forkful (It always looks like you are shovelling your food in like a greedy beast). Just think of all the terrible celebrity pictures magazines roll out of skinny celebrities eating a burger, you know the sort, which are always the most unflattering! And people in London are busy. They tend to eat and go.
So I lie in wait, trying to capture a natural moment. A first date, with coy smiles, nervous giggling and twitchy legs under the table, colleagues wishing to be more, groups of friends, and my favourite is people on their own.
I love thinking about what they do next, after they've finished their paper or crossword, or wonder what they are listening to on their earphones. People watching is such a lovely past time and even nicer when it's for work!
And people were watching me, sometimes they'd see me out of the corner of their eye and give me a thumbs up or a big grin. Others, often women, would look embarrassed but then I silently mouth, you look beautiful, and head over to show them the photo on the camera display. It's lovely when they say "Oh that's a really nice one." I can tell the people who don't want their photo taken and I steer clear, a successful British comedienne was in the queue at Bankside and I made it obvious I wouldn't take her picture. She came over and thanked me and we both carried on our days.
I am lucky that I have clicked with Leon. I understand what they are trying to convey in their photography and hopefully they are happy with the results. When you are developing your portfolio, whether as a brand new business or as an established photographer, I think it's important to build relationships so that you have a set of clients who can rely on you. My biggest tip is to spend time appreciating their brand, their identity to ensure that the photography reflects them. That it is distinctive as both their and your style of photography.
My blog is my living CV. I get approached by new clients through my website and by sharing peeks from other shoots, it enables me to have a constantly changing online portfolio.
I have ear marked a post in my #backtobasics series dedicated to 'How to start a photography business' but if you have any questions before then, as that post is a little way off, just leave a comment or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now who is hungry after this post? Can you imagine how peckish you get shooting delicious food all day?!