Keeping up appearances – being a great photographer is a complete package!

Some food for thought. What is a Professional Photographer in 2016? What should they look like? How should they behave? Three very important questions then, that need an answer, and probably answers that some will not want to hear. So, perhaps its better to face questions with questions that only one’s conscience can answer.

Isn’t professionalism in photography more about a demeanour than a ‘God Given Right’ to call oneself professional, as it is a sole source of income? Nowadays how many people do we know that have multiple income sources? Many of my ex-commercial photographer friends have had to diversify to survive and some have taken second jobs to make a living. It’s clearly a time for thought and how the professional organisations should be assisting and supporting those who have dedicated most of their working lives to the profession. Ivory towers are havens of fantasy, can fall and are often indefensible.

Surely a professional photographer should dress appropriate to the assignments they are undertaking? Is it therefore right for the photographer at a wedding where the guests are dressed smartly and elegantly in suits and dresses to turn up in jeans, T Shirts? How should one dress to shoot the MD of a blue chip company? As an equal or a tradesman?

Finally, on the subject of behaviour. Of all the ‘disagreements’ between a photographer and a client, the vast majority are caused by behaviour. Sometimes it’s contractual. ‘He said, she said’ scenarios, or at worst its ego’s that get in the way. Fear of criticism of their images to the point of being aggressively defensive when sometimes, those criticisms may be justified.

We are all judged continuously, not by a discerning market but on the whole, a market driven, cost conscious litigious one. Time for inward reflection and to remember, you are your brand.

© Martin Grahame-Dunn 2016


10 things a Photographer should know – Part 8

8. “Value” is different from “price.”
Don’t compete on price alone. That is certain death in any creative field. Focus on delivering value and price yourself accordingly. If you deliver great value with your images — better than expected, and better than your competition– and you can illustrate that through any means, then you should be more expensive. And remember that value comes in many forms.
Chase Jarvis
* Businesses in Photography fail because they try to compete on price, fact! To simply base your pricing structure on what your competitors are offering without the same costs and overheads is nonsensical and best and financial suicide at worst. Yes, sure, people are motivated by price. We are often told that the customer cannot see the difference but I ask you…can you? Do you accept sub standard based on price and make do? Or do you feel bad about that and go for quality, longevity and by implication, better value?
Martin Grahame-Dunn

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 7 – Make mistakes, learn quickly!

7. Make mistakes, learn quickly.
Simply put, you need to be able to learn from your mistakes. Avoiding failure is not the goal. The goal is recovering from mistakes quickly. That goes for ever element of your photography–creative, business, vision…you name it. If you’re not willing to make mistakes, you’ll be paralyzed with inaction. That is the devil. Get out there and do stuff. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, change it. Quickly.
Chase Jarvis
* Making mistakes is an essential part of the socialisation and learning processes of every human being on this planet. Perhaps we can master mechanical techniques but rarely can we apply these techniques to the letter of the law on our flawed subjects. While symmetrical faces are perceived to be attractive, completely symmetric faces are disconcerting and are not perceived as normal and that is a fact! What we try to do as photographers is to come close to facial symmetry by using light and angles to correct irregularities. A great practitioner will learn to observe defects by studying physiognomy and lighting into the same. That is a practical example of making mistakes and learning how to correct them.

10 things a Photographer should know – Part 4

4. Big challenges create the best work.
“If you get assignments that are pushing your vision, your skills, then awesome. Kudos to you, keep getting those assignments. If you’re not getting those assignments, then you need to be self-assigning that challenging work. Give yourself tough deadlines and tougher creative challenges. You do your best work where there is a challenge that is clearly present and 10 feet taller than you think you can handle.”
Chase Jarvis
* All I have to say on this one is ‘Command and Control’. Command the respect of your clients as a real expert in high demand even if you’re not at this time in your career and its all smoke and mirrors. Control situations and make sure you are seen to be in control! There is a huge benefit in self motivated ‘projects’ to boost your business. Consider it essential research and development. Don’t be afraid to ‘cold call’ potential clients if you have a product you truly believe in and is a benefit to them and their businesses. Price you products realistically and make offers that are difficult to refuse. Over 80% of the contents of your essential business toolbox should be sales and presentations skills. Get out there and shoot new images that are commissioned by yourself as a practical presentation pack. And above all, make that presentation consistent!
Giving clients high quality presentation and variety is essential to your business image.

Giving clients high quality presentation and variety is essential to your business image.

The STUDIO for hire in Leamington Spa

Studio Screen

Studio in Theatre format facing our 50″ Plasma screen – 18 seats


The STUDIO at Victoria House in the heart of Royal Leamington Spa is now open for business. A much needed facility for hire that is equipped with iLux Lighting, a wealth of backgrounds including Chromakey, Multimedia Projector and 50″ Plasma screen making it a perfect shooting space as well as meeting room and training area. Rates are very keen and availability is good with ample parking too. Situated on the top floor of a Grade II listed Regency building it has beautiful natural light too.

Help is available upon request from world renowned trainer and judge, Martin Grahame-Dunn who can also tailor bespoke training for you individually or in small groups. Perfect for anyone wishing to shoot in a well equipped studio as an amateur, professional or even camera clubs and groups. For further details or to make a booking please contact Martin on 07854 249710 and we will be pleased to help.

Lecture format

Studio in Lecture format – 18 seats and plenty of space

Putting together your ‘Studio’ Business Plan – Part 6

6. Financial projections

This is the most daunting part of writing your business plan, but you can download various free templates on the internet that should help you with the structuring of it. Your plan should cover at least a three year period, with the most detail showing for the first year.

Create a separate spreadsheet for each of the following:

  • Cash flow plan (your cash balance and monthly flow patterns, considering all outgoings)
  • Profit & Loss (the level of profit you expect to make over time, given sales and outgoings)
  • Sales Forecast (how much income do you expect to get from sales)

Make sure you include all your outgoings, even the most insignificant, so that you get a true profit projection. Don’t forget: premises (rent or mortgage payments), power (gas, electricity etc), telephone, insurance, postage, stationery, equipment machinery or tools, advertising, bank charges & interest, wages / salaries, vehicle expenses, accountancy fees, legal / professional fees, tax, depreciation.

Some items should be broken down further in the cash-flow plan, for example: bad debt provision, loan and financing repayments and VAT payments.

In addition to your spreadsheet, include a summary which details any capital you need, security you can offer lenders, a debt management plan, sources of revenue and any personal financial information you feel is relevant.

Putting together your ‘Studio’ Business Plan – Parts 4 & 5

4. Your team

You may be setting up your company alone, in which case this section will be short. In this situation you write down your plans for hiring staff in the future and how this will impact on your business growth.

If you are starting your business with a team of people, however, you should use this section to elaborate on their skills, experience, interests and how each person will contribute to the business.

Give expected salaries or wages where available or if you don’t plan to take a salary immediately you should say at what stage you are expecting to start.

5. Operations and infrastructure

This is potentially the most helpful part of writing a business plan. It will help you get to grips with the many aspects of running your own business and remind you of tasks which you have yet to complete.

These topics should be included in your plan:

  • Business premises – this should cover costs, location, whether you rent or own it, insurance and future plans for expansion
  • Infrastructure – think about what technology and equipment you’ll need to get started
  • Facilities, equipment and stock – suppliers, new or second hand items, insurance
  • What investment is needed?
  • Start-up costs
  • Your provision for: managing accounts, payroll, health & safety, quality control


If you think you need some more detailed support on developing your business strategy, then feel free to contact me directly….

Putting together your ‘Studio’ Business Plan – Part 3

3. Sales and marketing

This is often a last minute job when starting a business. Putting together a sales and marketing plan is actually incredibly important and vital to the success of your business, especially when you think that this will be the means by which you tell the world that your business exists.

You must use this section to describe how you will bring your product or service to market. Specify where you expect customers to be able to buy your product, listing which types of retailer you will target (in the case of commercial photography or gallery sales) and whether you plan to sell online, offline or both. If you are selling a service, how will people get to know about it? List the marketing channels do you plan to use, such as PR, advertising, online, direct mail etc, and add detail about how each will benefit your business.

Think about your position within the market and how you can create a niche for your business in the minds of your customers. If you’ve developed a brand, or plan to, include details and even any designs you have prepared. Branding is another vital key to success. To look different is to be seen to be different and the uniqueness 0f your business will stand out above your competition.

Particularly important is how you price your products and you should include justification for your decision in the plan.

Finally, write a sales plan including which suppliers, retailers or customers you intend to target.

More soon…

Putting together your ‘Studio’ Business Plan – Part 2

2. Detail your customers, competitors and research

You must decide exactly which markets you want to target. This will help give your business activities focus and clarity of purpose. It is essential that in your plan you should include customer profiles, i.e. who are they, where do they live, what types of products do they buy and what type of lifestyle do they lead? Once you have done so, go back to your business description and make sure that the product or service you are offering matches your target market. In a photographic business on particular, the language you use in communicating with your market is critical to your success. Photo jargon is often your worst enemy.

In this section you should collate information about your competitors. This research is vital even if you feel you have a unique product, you will always have competitors so think this through carefully. Re-iterate what separates your business from your competition.

If you have conducted any research into the viability of your business, which supports your projections, include it at this stage.