I decided, having been emailed by Leigh Frost about this event, that if I could spare the time I would go along to this meeting as it more logically covered my area geographically. On previous occasions such as these I have always already known some of participants, whereas on this occasion I knew precisely no one, but the reception I received from Leigh was far from frosty; it was positively welcoming, and true to its name, there was indeed a buzz of conversation around me from those who had arrived before me.
I had arrived in good time and took advantage of the warm bright sun and puffy clouds to capture a few shots to help me to relax before entering the Auction Room in Duke Street. I believe having the camera around my neck at least gave others at least an opening gambit by guessing that perhaps I might indeed be a photographer, and from my standpoint that would at least mean I was on familiar ground with regards to the subject.
Before I continue the narrative I feel I should explain the somewhat bizarre image that heads this entry in my blog, it came about fairly late in the proceedings when a lady called jane Tait produced it at the bar, and I could immediately understand why she found that it made taking shots of smiling children a cinch – when I agreed that it could hardly fail, jane said it worked equally well with adults, and since it had made me smile, I could only concur!
Leigh immediately she had signed me in, introduced me to someone, and the morning began. At first I was talking to people for whom photography was unlikely to be high on their list of priorities especially since for many nowadays the ready availability of cameraphones is entirely adequate for the needs of those for whom the point of contact is the Internet – I can neither compete against free, nor under most of those circumstances can I justify the expenses of the equipment I use since really my work is best valued when used in print.
I always know that for many the work for which I am suited is hard to find, and often it is understanding what the client needs is my challenge, because often what they describe as their requirement is simply not going to tell their story. I really need to know who they are trying to reach and the story they need to be telling in order to reach their market and often what they see as important, it is not always what their client wants to be seeing.
I like to take photographs that tell a story, and for my clients that story has to be personal, simply buying a stock shot which may have been used for a completely different product or service, to me, has to be weaker than a photograph of their process, their product or their service – immediately a photograph that depicts how they tackle their client’s needs is far more potent. Sometimes I find I am educating my clients, but really I spend a lot of time asking questions, so that I begin to understand what they are trying to achieve, and it has come about from my working very often with Designers in the past, and since many of those now take their own photos, I find myself having to think more like a designer, but without their formal training. However I never try to kid myself that I have those skills, I simply train myself to think along their lines when meeting clients because of my experience in the past working with some really talented designers for whom simplifying the message, the logo, or concept is paramount.
Taking photos for print purposes in brochures, annual reports or advertising is where I see my value, and the other networking group which I do frequent regularly comes from mainly the Design stream, and it does provide me with work, but geographically they are based more in Hertfordshire, and the last job was for one of their number who found himself double-booked, so asked me to cover a celebration Dinner of the Queen’s 90th Birthday being held in the Apothecaries’ Hall by the Imperial Society of Knights Batchelor.
One of the group today is a Printer who has recently partnered with a photographer, so the message is I should have come to these events sooner! But then perhaps like me, this may well have been his first visit, so the time was not quite right. Everyone has to find a means of communicating with potential clients with which they are at ease, and I do not chase prices down in order to win business, but I do sometimes make the decision not to charge if that gives me experience I would otherwise gain. I gave my time to a building project that lasted over eighteen months taking photos about once a fortnight, and it gave me some work t the end, but it added to my portfolio and experience and kept my eye in, and I enjoy site progress work as their is a constantly updated story, and the galleries are still being viewed on my blog more than three years after completion!
Among the few shots I took towards the very end of the meeting was to illustrate the significance of surroundings to products, especially those with reflective surfaces, hence the presence in the foreground of a red paper napkin and how it affected Jane Tait’s Rejuvenate pots.
I met some very interesting people today and something may transpire, and the experience was well worth the fiver! So thank you Leigh.