Never Forget What Inspired You

Back in 2012, before I was capturing wedding photographs under my own name, I was spending every minute of every day possible capturing black & white portraits and social documentary projects. When I took the step to becoming a full time wedding photographer, I knew my personal projects would have to take a back seat. I knew one day opportunities would arise allowing me to revisit one of my favourite genres in photography, I feel like I owe it to myself and photography to pick up the camera and shoot what first inspired me to leap into photography and you should too! 

A few weeks ago I was invited by Josh Warrington, the WBC International and European featherweight boxing champion and all round nice guy, to photograph his championship fight against Hisashi Amagasa. I met Josh around a year ago and we immediately got talking about photography and in particular the project I did in 2012 on war veteran Simon Brown, we discussed how great it would be to capture a short documentary on his boxing career. 

People still talk about the documentary I captured on Simon and I'm always challenged to do more documentary projects, so this is where the inspiration for this blog post came in.  I wanted to address that no matter whether you're an amateur, semi professional or professional photographer, you should always make time to capture the things that first inspired you and make sure you put yourself in situations that take you out of your comfort zone. 

So here's my 5 Top Tips on keeping you inspired: 

1. Remember your love for photography

You need to find what really gets your creative juices flowing, which artists and photographers inspire you the most? What do you love taking photographs of? What would you love to take photographs of? What do people love about your photography? I can guarantee there is one particular genre in photography that you could capture day in day out, no matter how broad or niche it may be. For me it was portraits, I attempted nearly every sub genre of portraiture before I landed on social documentary and later wedding photography. It may not be apparent straight away, so try spending 6 months experimenting with your genre and sub genres.

2. Share your results

When people try something new and step out of their comfort zone in any creative profession, you're going to feel a little uncomfortable. You're more than likely not going to create the same standard of work as all the other people doing it day in day out, therefore you might feel slightly nervous about sharing your work. So instead of getting overwhelmed and discouraged by the idea that people may not value what your producing, concentrate more on breaking that mould. Make a blog solely for the photographs, send emails to newspapers, online blogs and industry leaders to showcase what you're creating, don't be scared of people saying no.

Don't underestimate your own creativity, if the work you produce doesn't work for everyone then that is fine, but the achievement and buzz you will feel from giving it a go and remembering what inspired you will be a good enough reason, I promise!

3. You will never stand out if you don't break out of your comfort zone

When you begin a profession in any creative field, you dream of the day everything is simple and not chaotic, the day when you're not running around like a headless chicken and can just sit back and do the things you enjoy. The truth is, as soon as that day comes around, that same day you will loose all interest in photography or your business.  

The day I became comfortable with shooting 30 + weddings a year I knew had to add something else to my business model to keep me inspired.  I challenged myself, on top of 30+ weddings per year to write 3 blog posts per week. Skip ahead 27 weeks later of blog posts and I now feel comfortable both shooting all those weddings and writing 3 blog posts per week, I'm now challenging myself to shoot more documentary work. 

Yes, you might fail from time to time and it will probably take a while until you're happy with your results, but don't let that stop you! 

4. Don't be a Sheep

When you're attempting something new or challenging yourself, you're inevitably going to look around for inspiration. When you take the leap to do something new in the creative industry which is already saturated, the popular social media apps, such as Instagram and Pinterest, are probably going to be your first calling point to see what other leading creatives are doing in that particular genre. At this point it's very easy to go off and mimic what everyone else is doing, let's be honest, if you copy their style which is seen by the viewer as the correct way to capture/represent that genre, then you know you're kind of doing it right. However, those leading creatives didn't achieve success and fame because they copied someone else's style, they broke the mould and brought something new to the table. So remember, if you challenge yourself to break out of your comfort zone and try something new as a creative, be unique and don't worry about ticking boxes, embrace your title as a creative. 

5 . Keep your results separate

You've probably heard me talk about how easy it is to fall into the trap of the 'Jack of all trades' photographer, which again, there is nothing wrong with the concept if you particularly love shooting all genres of photography. To really become successful and make a career in photography, 9 times out of 10 you're going to need to hone in on what particular service and photography you're offering. 

If you shoot more than one genre, then I highly recommend separating your portfolios just like I did with my weddings www.lukeholroyd.com and commercial & sports photography www.lukeholroyd.co.uk. For the purpose of this blog post, I included the documentary shots I captured with Josh, but they won't make an appearance on any other wedding pages of my website and that goes for all my social media accounts that relate to my wedding photography. Instead, I'll include them on my commercial website and email around to particular blogs, magazines and other people who would be interested in the photographs.

So go out and shoot those photographs you've been thinking about capturing for a while, just be conscious about your existing portfolio and branding before you share with your audiences. 

The Do's & Don'ts For Your Facebook Page

If you follow my work you probably already know I'm a sucker for social media, I love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.. not to mention my new found love for Periscope. Using social media in your business can be a tricky skill to master, in recent years the way social media platforms work and ultimately generate business has changed. Emphasis has shifted away from 'How many Likes' and 'How many Followers' you have to now using your social media presence to drive traffic to your own website. 

This week I'm solely looking at Facebook, the platform that created the social media boom (let's just ignore your embarrassing Myspace account for the time being). Facebook constantly evolves and adapts, to the general everyday user it probably isn't that noticeable, but for anyone running a successful Facebook Page, you will certainly see the regular and welcomed updates. I'm certainly no social media expert and don't read the post if you're wanting to become an expert at managing your Facebook Page. What I wanted to share is how I have adapted my page over the past few years to a point that now generates more leads and enquiries than I can ever cater for. Also sharing the 'don'ts' allow you to read some of my mistakes I made and what I personally would stay away from!  

Let's get stuck into the negatives! 

The Don'ts

Imitate

One of the most awesome things about creating a brand new Facebook Page is the clean slate you start with. Creating social media accounts allows you to set yourself and your business apart from everyone else. More than likely there is a host of Facebook Pages you follow in your industry, it's important you don't try to imitate how their page looks or copy what their posts say. Let your own creativity run wild and don't steal someone else's. 

Spam Your Posts

Speak to anyone who runs a successful Facebook Page and they will tell you to limit how many posts you write. There is no real rule for how many posts you should be writing daily, weekly and monthly as it all depends on your business, your audience size and your audience engagement. Facebook limits how many people see your posts depending on your audience engagement, so you ideally don't want to be posting more than once a day but even once a week can still be very successful. You may find my recent blog post 'When do Photographers Post on Social Media' useful when it comes to when to post. 

Be Repetitive

Visitors to your page usually have a very quick glance down your timeline, in that very short period you need to keep them glued to the screen with fresh content. Try and keep your posts engaging by using images, video and links to visual content. Don't post the same thing each day, you will quickly notice a decline in likes and engagement and all your hard work will be back to square one. 

Write Too Much

We're all a little bit lazy when it comes to social media, with the exception of Pinterest, the average user stays on Facebook for less than 5 minutes. Don't bore them with a mammoth essay about your latest work, keep it short and snappy and if you want to talk more on a post consider directing them to a blog post or website.  

Constantly Change Your Branding

Consistency is key when it comes to branding, audiences build up trust with a brand, it may even be just your logo they recognise. They will associate your branding on Facebook with their own opinion they have built up, so changing your branding frequently can undo all that hard work you have achieved.  Try keep your Page Name and Profile Picture consistent, whilst updating your branding is important, you don't want to confuse your audience.

Slap Watermarks Everywhere  

Whilst you're probably trying to protect your work from theft, nobody likes huge watermarks plastered across images. You will quickly realise that if someone has their heart set on stealing your images, a watermark will probably only slow them down - most people can do wonders on Photoshop. I use a small watermark on all the images on my Facebook Page, I don't use this to protect my images, but instead it's part of my brand awareness. 


Here's the fun bit....

The Do's 

Try To Include Images

Even if you're not in the creative industry I would highly recommend using imagery on as many posts as possible. You're more likely to grab people's attention with an image than text so use it to your advantage. If you're interested in sizing your images for Facebook, the longest edge of the image should be approximately 2048px Wide

Try Your Hand At Video

People are still a little scared of video, more so when it includes themselves. Video is the most effective way of quickly sharing your message with your Facebook Audience, whether it's about your services and products, your latest work or about you and the business. Try adding a Q&A video to your Facebook Page and answer some your most frequently asked questions in the business. Once you've mastered posting videos, you may even try Facebook Live Video! 

Keep It Simple

Attempting to create a unique and popular Facebook Page can often result in making things more complicated than they need to be. The best Pages are simple. Your Page should clearly state what you do, where you are based, a link to your website and email and finally an insight into what you've been up to (your latest posts). 

Know Your Audience

The purpose of a proffesional Facebook Page is to attract your ideal audience. Spend some time pinning down who your real target audience is and design your page to cater for their needs. 

Pay For Advertising  

Whether it's paying to boost your posts, gain more likes or advertise your website, sponsored adverts really do work on Facebook. I could spend a whole day talking about the pro's and con's, so maybe I'll save the information for another blog post, but make sure it's something you're thinking about in the meantime. Just like limiting how many posts you write on Facebook, I would limit how many posts you sponsor and how much advertising you do on your Page. You can easily spend a small fortune, so try limiting your sponsored posts for the really good content you want your audiences to see. 

Drive Facebook Users To Your Website  

I recently wrote a blog post '15 Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Photography Website'  which talked about how important it is to drive more visitors to your photography website. I constantly find myself telling other creatives and beginners to generate excitement and buzz around their work and it's no different with linking their social media platforms to their website. Your Facebook page should be a preview of the services and products you offer, if you excite your audience enough and tease them with content they will soon be flocking to your website. Make sure your website is clearly visible on your Page and try adding links back to your website in posts and comments. 

Ask For Feedback From Users & Professionals

There's no point adding blood, sweat and tears into your Facebook Page to find out you've been approaching the social media platform wrong for the past 6 months. It's important to take a step back and firstly review your own results, consider how much time you spend on the Page and how that compares with the generation of leads and sales. Once you've addressed your own concerns seek advice from others, this could be your family & friends or established professionals in your field. They can easily see something you've been doing wrong or looked over, whichever the case, it's always good to get a second opinion. ( Feel free to post your Facebook Page in the comments below and I will endeavour to take a look and post my own thoughts!) 


Do you have your own Do's & Don'ts for Social Media Platforms? How have you found running a successful Facebook Page? 

The Benefits of a Professional Profile Picture

It’s fast approaching 2016 and if you have had the same LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook profile picture for the last year, you may find this post very useful. The basic principle of a profile picture is to identify yourself and make it easier for other people to find you. Secondly, it’s a square box that allows you to express a little bit about yourself and help other people build the right first impression of you. 

Whether you’re a sole trader, a managing director, a photographer or creative, your profile picture is the first thing people look at when they’re contacting you, reading your online CV or wanting to connect with you. Over the last few years I have captured profile pictures for businesses and individuals, the locations may differ, but every portrait I capture, the final image shows a little bit of their personality. Your profile image should genuinely reflect who you are, whether that’s through facial expression, the location & background or the clothes you are wearing. 

Continuing that contact and connection you have created during networking, business meetings or socialising is usually created on social media platforms and blogs, so an easily recognisable profile image is very useful. Remember first impressions really do count and people like to do business and communicate with someone they can trust, so having that welcoming & friendly profile picture is building that trust up from the start. 

Using a dated image of yourself or even worse, no profile picture at all, instantly turns people away from your page and profile. Having a fresh and professional image of yourself is a must for anyone in business. Here's a few benefits of a professional profile picture: 

    1    Make 'you' searchable: People search the web and social media through names and image, so that person you met during a networking event or someone you have done work for before will find the task of finding you online a whole lot easier if they can spot your profile picture. 

    2    Cross Platform: I talk a lot about your digital footprint when it comes to business and your online activities. If you have a fantastic new image of yourself that you've uploaded to Linkedin then don't let your other platforms suffer. Keeping your profile pictures consistent across social networks helps you to connect more with people and strengthens your identity online. Tip: if you would prefer to keep your personal Facebook profile separate, don't use the same profile picture.

    3    Personal & Approachable: I can guarantee as soon as you upload a new professional, friendly and clean profile picture your contacts will grow. The internet can be an untrusting place, so letting your online community and contacts know a little bit about you and associating that information with your profile picture will feel like they are already getting to know you. 

    4    Don't Assume Formal: You will have all seen those profile pictures captured against a white background, head and shoulders crop and a very formal office attire. Yes, for some businesses this may be a requirement, but consider a less formal approach to your profile pictures. Think about the environment or location you want to feature in the background and what the clothing you're wearing says about your personality.

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Hiring a professional photographer to capture some informal portraits of you on location, be it your working environment, city centre or your local park will provide you with a collection of portraits that showcase a little bit more about your personality and approach. Research how other successful people are showcasing themselves online and ask advice from a professional photographer, they will be more than happy to give you some tips. 


Did changing your profile picture generate more connections? Have you got any expert tips for capturing the perfect profile shot?

When do Photographers Post on Social Media

A question I am often asked is when do I post on Facebook, how do I receive high organic results and how some of my posts have more engagement than others. I found my own optimal times to post on Social Media as a Wedding Photographer based on my own experience. There are plenty of studies out there which can provide you with more stats and figures for what time and day is best to post on Social Media. 

So who is the client for a professional Wedding Photographer in Leeds? On average my clients are couples in their 20's & 30's, work through the day and are based anywhere in the United Kingdom. 

Every Social Media platform is different but my prime time to reach my audience is from 7pm on an evening. Here's a round up of when I post on Social Media. 

FACEBOOK

I try to post every day on my Facebook Page. I always post an image and text, as photography is a visual business, fans of my page expect to be seeing regular Wedding Images. I find that the best time to post is 7.30pm, most couples are back home, finishing their Dinner and chatting about their upcoming Wedding. 

TWITTER

I try to post on twitter every day, I'm a big fan of retweeting Blogs, News and Personal Thoughts, so even if I'm short on Wedding content, I can still be active. I find Tweets to be most optimal between midday and 4pm on a weekday. 

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is the opposite to Facebook & Twitter for me, I find posts first thing in the morning to be very successful. When I had an office job I jumped on LinkedIn just before 9am to catch up with what's going on in the business world.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is the total odd ball for me. Research suggests Monday's are the best day, but for me I post on Instagram when I have some good behind the scenes content, a recent Wedding Blog or some product shots of my photography prints. 

SNAPCHAT

I try use Snapchat on a daily basis, if I'm in the office all day it probably doesn't make great content but using a mixture of Stills & Video of my editing process, the Wedding Venue, meetings and new camera gear really does! 

PINTEREST

I regularly update Pinterest with my latest Weddings and products. For me, Pinterest falls into the same category as Facebook, updating my Wedding Pinterest boards around 7/8pm on an evening delivers the best engagement. 


Do you have any Social Media top tips? How do you make your content appealing & engaging?