© Sophie Skipper Photography 2016

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How To Use Sun & Shade In Your Photography

Much like every year, our unpredictable British weather likes to keep us on our toes. This does mean that capturing those perfect photos can be a little tricky. People often find their photos are either flooded with light or hidden in shade and it can be a challenge to find the ideal balance.

Having photographed many products, lifestyle images and venues, I have learnt a few essential tips and tricks along the way when it comes to dealing with sun and shade.  I thought it was only fair that I shared them with you and I hope you find them useful this summer.

Open shade is your new best friend!

Shade can be a real pain when photographing outdoors (or even indoors!) but there is a little something that us photographers like to call ‘open shade’. What is thisI hear you ask? Open shade is anywhere that is shaded from direct sunlight but still has ambient light around it. When the subject is in open sunlight it can cast some rather unflattering shadows, particularly on the face. Have a good look around and spot any buildings, trees or even fencing that could provide an element of shade. This is like natures very own airbrush tool! Just this little bit of shade can provide an even and blemish free skin complexion.

Product Photography

Push the sun to the back!

The location of the sun when shooting is crucial and having the sun to one side of someone can make things a little tricky. You will find you often get one side of your shot very underexposed and the other side over-exposed! A photographer’s nightmare! As a general rule of thumb, the camera will only expose for one main light source so when learning, try shooting with the sun behind your subject to create a nice halo effect (but always expose for your subject, not the sun!). An alternative, and often one that many avoid is to try shooting with the sun directly on your subject. This can make the eyes of your subject really stand out and provide a soft skin tone.

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Use the sun to your advantage!

The sun doesn’t always have to be your enemy when shooting. Why not use it to create some beautiful solar flares or sunspots across your shot. This can create some individuality to your images and offer an atmospheric feel to your images.

5 Lessons I learnt When Becoming My Own Boss

5 Lessons I learnt When Becoming My Own Boss

These are my favourite kind of blogs to write. I love sharing my self-employment journey with people and in particular any ambitious photographers who are looking to make it on their own. I have managed to refine my HUGE list of things I have learnt so far to my top 5:

  1. Never Compare

Everyone’s journey in business is completely different, irrelevant of whether you are in the same industry or not. You will never gain anything from comparing because there are so many factors that determine levels of success. You may have started with zero money and someone else may have been fortunate enough to have a small sum of money to invest in initial marketing and equipment. So, remember the only person to compare to is your previous self.

2. Outsource where you can!

Now I am not saying outsource your skill but everything you can hand over – do! My biggest areas of time used to be spent on marketing, administration, invoicing and emails. I have managed to outsource 80% of this and it has allowed me to focus on the areas of my business that not only are most profitable but also are also most enjoyable.

3. Get networking

This may sound an obvious one but it has really been invaluable, in more ways than one. Not only has it provided me with an abundance of public speaking confidence but also life-long valuable business connections that I never dreamt I would make or even need! In the first year of business, networking provided me with 65% of my turnover and it is from this networking that referral tree grows externally. It is a worthwhile investment for anyone starting a business, particularly if you are doing it alone.

4. Reinvest

If you have never been in business before, like myself, it can be a little mind-blowing with how to manage your finances. The one thing I have learnt is to reinvest wherever I can. This can be on marketing, new equipment, a business coach or anything that may be of benefit to the business. There are several reasons for this; the first being that you can never go wrong investing money back into your business and allowing it room to grow and the second which some may find the most important! The higher your businesses expenses the less profit the dreaded tax man can get his hands on!!

5. Set Goals

This is a really important one for me. I like to have something to work towards as it provides me with extra motivation. Set goals and do not be afraid to make them big goals! I never thought I would be where I am today but I set myself a goal and I fortunately smashed it! They are also a way of measuring your success or providing some guidelines or where and why you may be failing. Aim high and you will achieve!

 

Just before I end this, I wanted to leave you with one thing that I believe has aided my career success so far and that is BE RECOGNISABLE. Particularly in the photography industry, it is essential to have something unique and quirky about your style and if your work can be spotted out of a crowd of 10-15 competitors then you are doing a good job!

 

Here is to the end of the first two years in business and to an exciting and colourful next two years!

S x

Selling a High-Value Product With Low-Value Photos – Are YOU Guilty?

Where do you currently position your business within your industry? Is your service or product cheap and cheerful or lavish and luxurious? Establishing your position is crucial in discovering your target market and once this is really nailed then the leads and enquiries will start to naturally occur a lot easier. So, what has this got to do with photography…?

Product Photography

Well, it is simple! The higher end and more exclusive market may not be as competitive as the lower end of the scale but the competition is often at the top of their game. Therefore, if your product or service is to appeal to the higher income households it needs to look like the money it is worth!

All too many times I am seeing beautiful products being done a disservice with poor quality photography and even worse – mobile phone photography! I suggest to potential clients that they ask 4 or 5 friends/strangers/family if they feel their current product photography reflects their products and brand. More often than not the answer is ‘no, not quite’.

When you think that something as simple as changing your photography could be the one thing that has been the missing piece between your business reaching your target market – would you question the investment?

 

The common commercial product photography errors I see are:

 

  • Lighting – This is almost completely out of your control when using an iPhone to take your product shots. Your iPhone will be picking up numerous different light sources with every shot and re-adjusting, therefore you will never get a consistent set of images.
  • Colour – I bet you’ve tried taking a ‘white-background’ shot and the white background has turned out grey, yellow or blue? Yep, common struggle! This requires professional lighting to fix, along with a good knowledge of white balance and colour corrections
  • Depth of Field – Lots of businesses come to me saying they are constantly achieving ‘flat’ images when they try to take them themselves, this is all to do with Depth of Field, or lack of! Creating depth of field using a DSLR camera creates the effect of your subject/product being in focus, with that nice blurred background effect, without this an image can feel very flat, and this technique simply can’t be achieved using a phone

IT’S TASK TIME!

Now it is time for you to go away and take a look at your business and its commercial photography.

Ask yourself who your perfect target audience/clients are – do you have enough of them?

Now take a look at your photography across your website, social media, brochures, leaflets… is this sending the right message about you, your business and your products?

If you have answered no to any of the above questions then let’s have a chat about how we can transform your business!

Content Is King – Or Is It?

I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase ‘content is king’, well this blog is attempting to turn this on its head and question if this really is the case? We live in a fast paced world and if something hasn’t grabbed our attention almost instantaneously then we have already subconsciously dismissed it. With this being said, is content really the king or is it eye-catching photography?

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Yes I may be a little biased on this subject but if you sit and think about all the advertisements, social media posts and branding you see in a day – is it the words you notice or the imagery?

Let’s take blog posts for example (a rather relevant example). If you had two blog posts side by side on exactly the same topic with the same title, would you be more inclined to read the one with bright colours, relevant professional photography and quality branding or the one that is a black and white start to finish text document? I think the answer is quite an obvious one.

Social media is living proof of this and in fact Facebook’s algorithm is configured around this. If your post has a quality image or video then it is likely to be shown to more people – why is this? Because it is what consumers love! We are not even aware that do it, but we are more attracted to visuals and in particular photography showing real people in real situations. My Meet The Team & commercial photography packages are centred on this philosophy and I always have the end use of the photos in mind. So whether they are for social media, websites or traditional print, I ensure they are unique and eye catching to achieve maximum results for your business.

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It is a sad but true fact that as a society we are quite judgemental, and this is exactly what we do when we encounter a new brand for the first time. We judge on branding, the website, reviews, photography…. the list is endless. As a business owner myself, I know how we are always striving to stay ahead of the competition and I make a living out of helping other business do just that with quality commercial photography!

The combination of persuasive quality content and high-end photography is the true king. Keep your eyes peeled on my social media channels everyday throughout March for my Hot Pic Hints to help you achieve stand out photography.

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S.S X

Top 5 Tips To Utilise Instagram For Your Business

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We are all aware of the power of social media in today’s society, particularly Facebook & Twitter. However, Instagram has remained somewhat of a phenomenon among businesses and is often overlooked. This is a huge marketing mistake, particularly for visual businesses such as restaurants, beauticians and boutique hotels.

 

Being a purely visual platform, Instagram is all about grabbing the attention of its users with the first glance. This may sound a little daunting for some but lets think of the big advantage here. How often are you sat in front of Facebook trying to think of a clever or inspiring post to write? Well, the written content is not the priority on Instagram – let your photography do the talking for your business! Below are my top 5 tips on how you can make your photography be one of your biggest lead generators through Instagram:

  1. Say bye to mobile phone photography!

Yes I am a little biased but I also witness first hand the impact that having professional commercial photography can do for your business. If you are looking for a special gift for Mother’s day would you choose the Instagram profile that used dark mobile phone imagery that is clearly in the spare room in their house? Or would you choose the business that had chosen to invest in beautifully staged and clear professional commercial photography?

2. Include people

Social media is all about eliminating the ‘faceless brand’ and providing businesses with a chance to showcase their personality. It is so important to put a face or many faces to your brand and this can be utilised within any industry. I always try and include relatable scenarios in all photo shoots. For example, included within my food photography packages are shots of people physically enjoying the food and within the restaurant setting itself.

 

3. Think outside the box

Never be afraid to think outside the box with your commercial photography. This is my approach to any shoot, no matter whether it is service or product based! It is essential to put yourself in the shoes of the user browsing your Instagram profile. It is much more appealing to open a profile with varied images and bright colours than simply your logo or endless photos of lifeless products. The use of props is a fantastic way to mix up your commercial photography – take a look at my varied portfolio for a little inspiration.

4. If you love it – show it off!

This point is particularly relevant for product based businesses, hotels and restaurants. If you have invested your time and money in a beautiful product or perhaps a boutique hotel then let’s start showing it off! Instagram is all about being confident and yes, at times slightly arrogant, with your business. Having the right commercial photographer for your brand is essential in showcasing your business at its best and combining this with the power of Instagram is a no-brainer! Don’t keep your hard work hidden!

5. Build a brand

This may seem a little obvious but this is what Instagram is so amazing at doing! If you are using the above tips then you are already making the right steps to building your brand. So what happens after that? Having a brand means having a trusting and recognisable relationship with your consumers and resulting in long term organic (FREE!) growth. A picture speaks a thousand words so instead of spending 20 minutes thinking of mediocre content for other social platforms, spend this time investing in professional photography and letting it do all of the talking for you and your brand.

Are you convinced by the power of Instagram and the benefits it can bring to your business? Do you have a DSLR camera and would love to use it your businesses advantage? Click here to find out how!

Beat The January Blues With Photography!

2017 is over and I am sure many business owners like myself, will be reflecting
on their past year in business. However, it is just as important to look forward to
the year ahead and set business goals for the future.

January can be a strange month for many businesses and if you are anything like
me then you will have entered 2018 with the feeling of “this is my year!” That is
hopefully for the case for us all and my 2018 plans are to help other small
businesses and individuals like myself realise their potential through
photography.

I have set myself quite a challenge for the year by holding 16 intensive 1-day
Beginner’s Photography Courses across 2018. This means that I have 160 spaces
to fill with keen to learn individuals. You might think I am a little crazy however
after the success of my courses in 2017, I have found a new love for sharing my
knowledge and skills with others who are genuinely interested to listen. After
receiving fantastic testimonials about the course, it prompted me to take the next
step and ensure that no one misses out in 2018.

food product photography

Although these courses are not specifically aimed at business owners, many of
my past students have owned a small business and were keen to replicate the
skills they had learnt during the day within their business. I have put together a
simple 3-step process to help you get the most from your camera.

If you do not own a camera but you are keen to make 2018 your best year in
business then fear not! Your business brand and image can be transformed with
photography. This may seem a rather bold statement but having now worked
with over 100 businesses and witnessed the transformation that professional
Meet The Team and website photography packages can do – it is hard not to feel
a little confident!

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So why not turn January on its head and make it your most productive business
decision month. Don’t just take my word for it; visit my commercial photography
portfolio to see the potential for yourself!

S.S x

The Importance Of Commercial Photography In Brand Identity

food product photography

When you hear the words brand and brand identity you may turn your mind to
logos and graphic design. However, there is much more to a brand than just
the logo and maintaining brand consistency is crucial to create a strong
message for your audience.

Commercial photography is a means by which companies communicate their
personality, uniqueness and professionalism to customers and understanding
the value of this could help your business to appeal to a wider audience. In
the past, commercial photography was limited to black and white corporate
images of professionals smiling or hand shaking with one another in business
attire.

However, in the fast paced competitive world of business today, it is becoming
increasingly apparent for the need for unique and stand out photography. My
commercial photography packages are intended to create a personality for
your business and provide consistency throughout your website, any
marketing material that represents your business and importantly for todays
society, your social media channels.

Product Photography

This is all about branding a company in the minds and hearts of customers,
demonstrating a personal side of the business that not only creates a
connection with customers, but also differentiates the company from the
competition.

My Meet The Team packages are centred on your business and consist of
individual headshots that may include prop. Be prepared to get stuck in and
have some fun!

Product Photography

Building on the importance of brand identity, I am now offering commercial
photography packages that include meet the team headshots but also
photography for your website and further marketing material. This can range
from pictures of your office premises, vehicles, staff in their working
environment and any photography that can represent your business.

Building a brand with photography involves creating desire, being
consistent, being distinctive, reflecting the personality of the brand, and
showing products clearly and accurately. If you are looking to maximise
your business potential through commercial photography then do get in
touch to find out how.

S. S x

Sarah & Steve

food product photography

SARAH & STEVE

Sarah & Steve tied the knot at the beautiful venue, Offley Place Country House Hotel,

As Christmas weddings go, this was up there with the best! Losing light early on wasn’t a problem, as the venue offered plenty of indoor spots for couple portraits, along with all the lovely Xmas deco’s!

We did manage to get outside for a night portrait, which is always good fun 🙂 … along with some cheeky sparkler shots!

Wishing these two all the happiness for the future, the day ran so smoothly and the happy couple didn’t stop smiling, which makes my job so much easier 🙂 It was a pleasure to witness.

Hope you enjoy the sneak peak Sarah & Steve! x

 

Product Photography

Festive Photography For Your Business!

food product photography

It is hard to believe 2017 is coming to an end and Christmas is fast approaching. This is such an exciting time on a personal level for many people but it is equally as exciting for businesses, especially if you are a product based business with festive lines.

 

Christmas is a fantastic marketing tool for many businesses; in fact I would go as far as saying all businesses! It is a period of time where the general public are willing to spend more than their usual monthly budget and all businesses should take advantage of this with their branding and photography.

 

If you have even slightly considered that you may need to update and refresh your current commercial photography then now is the time to do so. Festive photography can work for both product and service based businesses in their own unique ways:

Product Based Festive Commercial Photography

Product Photography

If you sell ANY kind of product then this is the biggest chance to refresh your photography and to give your sales a boost, no matter what the industry. Adding simple things such as tinsel, fairy lights or even Christmas hats on your products instantly creates a human connection with your consumers.

 

If you sell anything in the home ware or interiors industry then this is quite possibly the best marketing opportunity to take advantage of. Putting your products in a Christmas home setting allows your consumers to envisage your products in their own setting.

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Service Based Festive Commercial Photography

You may be wondering how you can possibly take advantage of festive commercial photography with the lack of a physical product. There are many ways!

People love to see behind the scenes so having professional photography of your office with the Christmas decorations up is a fantastic way of connecting on a more personal level.

Why not have some festive and fun headshots of you and your team to showcase the personality behind your business. You can take this one step further and collate these photos into a calendar to send out to your clients as a Christmas thank you!

Hiring a professional photographer for your business Christmas meal is an amazing way to showcase your business ethos and the bond between colleagues by sharing these photos with your clients.

The list of festive commercial photography options is endless and it truly is one of the most powerful times to connect with your consumers. If you would like to take advantage of this then do not hesitate to contact me to find out more.

Danielle & Craig

DANIELLE & CRAIG

The lovely Danielle & Craig tying the knot at the wonderful Maison Talbooth!

This was a fantastic day all round, the venue was perfect for this intimate winter wedding, and it was truly a pleasure to photograph.

 

Hope you enjoy the sneak peak guys!

S x.

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