Why you NEED to use a photograph of yourself in business-to-business marketing - By Dave Pannell

Super excited to be featuring another great guest blog post from The Design Mechanics & Dave Pannell who have 20 years of website design, branding, growth and digital marketing – they're not just the experts, they're the industry-leaders in experience too. I've attended many of the Growth & Marketing bootcamps run by Dave and the Design Mechanics and I would highly recommended to any creative business or any business owner for that matter! Let's get straight into Dave's expert blog post: 

"I learnt a long time ago that people buy from people.  People especially buy from people they know and like.  The problem with this is the majority of business communication is now done digitally instead of face-to-face: it’s not unusual to have suppliers and even clients that you’ve only ever spoken to on the phone or by email.

With this lack of physical interaction, it can be hard to build up an emotional connection with a client – how can you make someone really like you (and therefore be more likely to buy from you) if they don’t even know what you look like?

This is why I insist that all my colleagues have professional photographs taken of themselves (and even on occasion a few unprofessional ones!) to help people make that personal connection with them.  For instance with this website, my photo is at the top so you know who you are talking to; you can get a good look at me and decide if I look a trustworthy soul or not.  It doesn’t matter if I look like a bag of spanners, as long as I’m smiling, friendly and look a genuine kind of guy you make more a connection with me when reading this article if you can see a photo of me.

You should use your photograph on any communication that isn’t face-to-face.  Having a friendly photograph of yourself on the footer of your email makes people more receptive to your message; putting a photograph of you on your business card helps people retain whatever connection they made with you when you handed it over in person.

So how do you get over your discomfort of having your photograph taken?  This is the main resistance I get from clients because the problem is when you look at a photograph of yourself, you see different things to other people.  You see your double-chin, your crooked nose and (for men of a certain age) your receding hairline. Other people don’t see these things, they see your smile and friendly twinkling eyes.

As such, you need to get other people involved.  Don’t try and take a “selfie” of yourself with an iPhone, book in with a local photographer who has a studio or a good mobile lighting set-up.

Choose someone you feel comfortable around and get on with. A photographer with a sense of humour and a good rapport will likely capture better photographs of you and make it feel less like you are having a police mug shot taken.

Because almost every commercial photographer is now shooting digitally they don’t have to worry about burning through film, so get them to shoot lots and lots of photos.  Take a couple of changes of clothes with you and try a combination of very formal and less formal set-ups.  Try moving around, and do a few silly poses pulling faces and strutting like John Travolta or Olivia Newton-John to make yourself less-uptight in front of the camera – the outtakes will make great social media posts in the future!

Once you have your photos, get other people to help you whittle them down to a handful of shots then post these on your Facebook or Twitter page to get people to vote on their favorites.  I’ve done this on a number of occasions with my own shots, and am always surprised that the shot I thought made me look cool, sexy, knowledgeable and professional all in one photo proves to be people’s least favorite.  Instead, the friendly and fun photos win over every time.

So, what are you waiting for?  If you haven’t got your photo on your website, business card and email then you are just making it harder for your clients to develop a connection with you."

More about Dave Pannell and The Design Mechanics:

Dave Pannell is a Member of the Chartered Institute of marketing and the creative force behind The Design Mechanics.  Dave has worked with both national and international brands including Harrods and the BBC.

Dave has helped hundreds of businesses with their branding and marketing campaigns and is also a regular keynote speaker on the marketing and creative industries.

Working with Wakefield University Centre, Dave has won awards for setting new standards in education for the graphic design industry and is the co-writer of what has been acknowledged as one of the best web design courses in the UK.

For more information visit The Design Mechanics Website

Interview Tips: 5 Things You Should Know - Warren Parratt

This week Warren Parratt, the Company Director of Positive People Recruitment, has kindly offered to share his advice & tips on 'Interview Tips: 5 Things You Should Know'. Some fantastic advice make sure you take a read: 

You’ve drafted your CV checked through it dozens of time and submitted it to your dream company for your desired position. Days later you receive an email from them, revealing that you have been shortlisted for the interview in two weeks’ time.

Your heart leaps for joy for about a minute, although somewhere inside you felt a tinge of uncertainty. As the days go by, your uncertainty escalates from worry to panic!

Don’t panic! After going through a number of interview tips on the internet, here are five ‘truths’ about job interviews that you should note prior to the big day itself.

1. Impress EVERYONE

Many interviewees are not aware that some companies seek the opinions of receptionists on their hiring decisions. After all, formal interviews do not reveal the social skills they may or may not possess. A well rounded assessment may take into account what occurs behind the scenes, particularly how interviewees act while waiting for their interview.

This is where they meet the other job applicants as well as the receptionist, so it’s a good chance for the potential employer to evaluate their people skills in an informal setting.

Body Language Speaks Volumes

Apart from that, receptionists can tell if the interviewee is well prepared and can even have a rough gauge of their personality from his or her demeanour.

For instance, if you’re fumbling through your interview notes or frequenting the toilet a lot, the receptionist would note that you’re anxious and insecure about yourself. On the other hand, if you enter the waiting area composed, with a friendly smile and a positive outlook, the receptionist will probably think that you’re all thoroughly prepared for the interview.

2. First Impressions (Really) Count

Yes, we all know that first impressions count when it comes to meeting someone new. This is more important when it comes to occasions like an interview: when someone is deliberately assessing you and scrutinizing your speech and body language. In fact, the first five minutes of your interview is the critical moment for you to impress them. Miss it and you might find yourself losing the deal even if you have sent in a top-notch CV.

One Chance to Nail It

Psychological studies have even shown that it takes only seven to seventeen seconds to make that first impression with someone new. Perhaps if we’re talking about interviews where interviewers are consciously reminding themselves to stay objective, the first impression may take longer to form.

Nevertheless, the point is that the faster you are in projecting yourself as a good potential employee during the interview, the higher the chance of you securing that job. After all, not all interviewers are well trained, so they are susceptible to influences like the first impression you give them.

The Bare Necessities

There are a number things you should take note of, and I’m sure you’re aware of them too. Things like being punctual for the interview, adhering to the dress code, maintaining a straight but relaxed posture, making eye contact and smiling matter when it comes to making an impression.

It’s also vital to give a good introduction of yourself when prompted by the interviewer. This is where you show your confidence and passion for the job by varying your tone of voice, and exhibiting the right kind of body language.

3. Gestures Speak Louder Than Words

Non-verbal communication includes facial expressions, eye contact, gestures or hand movements, posture, etc. Social psychologists believe that such non-verbal communication makes up close to two-thirds of any communication between people. What this means for you as the interviewee is that landing the job depends more on how you move than what you have to say.

Of course, to be fair, it probably takes a combination of both non-verbal and verbal communication to make an interview a success. It would be strange to see someone getting his or her dream job without uttering a word during the interview!

Confidence Rules

The rule of thumb is to stay positive and upbeat about yourself and about the position. Be as confident as you can as you give him or her that firm handshake, introduce yourself and tackle the questions one by one.

Another thing you should be aware of is what you tend to do subconsciously when you get anxious. Common symptoms of a person with the interview jitters include leg shaking, hair stroking and finger tapping.

4. Know Your CV Inside-Out

Remember that you’ve already submitted your resume and had it read by the interviewer prior to the interview. This means that they are more than likely to question you based on that piece of paper.

The resume only holds critical information that you want the reader to capture. They would only have the chance to go into the details with you during the interview itself.

Practice What You Preach

Apart from practicing on how to answer the questions they will pose, know your resume like the back of your hand so you can cite evidence and concrete examples to support your claims. You may say that you have rich in-depth experience with customer service but they would expect you to explain why and how.

This is when you should trace back to a time when you handled a very difficult customer successfully. If you have already thought of this example while you were reviewing your resume, relaying the incident will come as a breeze.

Blow that Trumpet

Having examples of incidents when you exhibit a certain quality essential for the job is just one area to look out for.

Another thing which they are interested to hear about is the figures in your list of achievements in your previous jobs or posts, for instance, how much increase in net profit you have contributed to the company you worked with previously. Such numbers would provide evidence to substantiate your various claims. Anticipate questions that target those parts of your resume that are relevant to the position you’ve applied to.

5. You’re Expected to Ask Questions

Nearing the end of the interview, you should expect the interviewer to ask if you have any questions. Not asking any is a big mistake because it may reflect badly on you. It gives the impression that you aren’t really enthusiastic enough about the job to find out more. This is really the time for you to shine, but only if you ask the right questions.

Ask the Right Questions

First and foremost, try not to ask close-ended questions that can be answered with a YES or NO. Some interviewers may be kind enough to elaborate further, but you don’t get that all the time. It may result in a moment of awkward silence and chances are that you wouldn’t get the answer you want for your question.

Secondly, some interviewers actually judge you based on the nature of your question. If the question is pretty straightforward and the answer can actually be found if you took the time to explore the company’s website, it goes to show that you didn’t do enough research for the interview. If, however, you demonstrated that you had done your homework with your questions, and had come up with an intelligent one, the interviewer would be impressed, which adds points for you.

Conclusion

There’re no hard and fast rules about the kind of questions you should ask, but you should keep in mind that it is your last chance for you to seal the deal before the interview ends. On the other hand, if you do have burning questions that needed clarification go ahead and ask even if they don’t sound impressive. After all, an interview is a bi-directional process involving your participation to find that job that fits.

If you would like to learn more about Warren and Positive People Requirement, head over to www.positivepeople.uk.com

The Photo Assistant Blog: Tom Fielden

I'm loving the recent guest bloggers over here on the Creative Resources & Advice Blog and this week there's another great guy sharing his tips on Photography Assisting. If you haven't read my blog post on photography assisting make sure you take a read, in the meantime here's what Tom Fielden has to say:  

"To become a commercial or advertising photographer, it is considered essential to pursue work as a photographic assistant for several years before attempting to shoot for yourself. This allows you to build industry knowledge, contacts and refine your own craft before making the jump to photographer. 

When I first started my career as an assistant, I didn’t know anybody working in the field. So spent the first few weeks after university emailing and contacting photographers asking for unpaid experience. This proved a successful method as there was less pressure on me, as I wasn’t being paid – but gave me the chance to impress them with the knowledge I already had and gain their trust for future paid work.

It isn’t a career that will take off instantly. There are already many experienced assistants circulating in the industry who are trusted to get the job done. All you can do is take every opportunity you can, and impress each time. After a few months, you will start to see more and more paid work come your way. My one piece of advice I recommend you take is to not become disheartened or lose interest when there isn’t work as this ‘separates the wheat from the chaff’. Persistence is key and hard work will pay off.

When you start to get more regular work you will begin to build a kit to help you on shoots. There are some essential pieces of equipment every assistant should carry in their kit.

Mine includes:

•  Tape! Lots of tape! (gaffa, masking and insulating). Tape is always needed on set, whether holding down the end of a colorarma, or making a "jerk stopper" for the tether cable. It's always handy to have at least one of each type in your kit. YOU WILL USE IT.

•  Small tool kit of screwdrivers, pliers and tweezers. Not always needed, but when out on location and something needs tightening or fixing, you'll be glad to have it.

•  Grips and clamps - I always carry two or more super clamps and 'A' clamps.

•  Small selection of different amp fuses. Very useful if one blows in an extension lead or charger.

• Leatherman or another form of Stanley knife. Scissors will also be useful but not a necessity.

This is a good place to start with your kit. You will find out what works for you and what you use most. "

Big thank you to Tom for sharing a few tips on photography assisting, make sure you check out his awesome THE PHOTO ASSISTANT BLOG for more tips!


If you're interested in seeing more guest bloggers take a read below! 

Photoshop Curves: the lowdown by Elly Lucas Photography

I'm mega mega excited to be inviting the lovely Elly over to share her awesome tips on Photoshop Curves. If you haven't already, you should seriously go check out her portfolio, there's always those few photographers that you go back and see what they've been up to on a regular basis because they keep creating outstanding images and Elly is certainly one of them.. her wedding snaps especially! 

In the meantime enjoy the read! - Luke

I’ve had a few people ask me to do a little demo on how to use the “curves” adjustment in Photoshop recently and, seeing as it’s pretty much one of my favourite colour editing tools EVER, I couldn’t quite resist. The only real downside here is that you’re gonna have to look at a close-up of my mug multiple times while I’m explaining this stuff. I do apologise.

Colour curves are the bee’s goshdarn knees. By using a curves adjustment layer in Photoshop, you can non-destructively tinker with your image tones to your heart’s content and create colours and contrast which are as subtle / batshit crazy as you like. To best show you the power of the curve, I’ve done a little self-portrait edit avec many, many screenshots. I’m well aware that this may not be technically perfect when it comes to the language and terminology I’m using – it just feels like the best way I can possibly describe it to you all. Alrighty. Ready to learn this business?! Here we go:

This here is a super basic JPG, sans any kind of colour edit. If you look at the little grey box to the right of this screenshot, you’ll see what appears to be a histogram on a grid with a line throught it. The grid is divided into four boxes across, each box representing a tonal range. From left to right, these boxes / sections represent the following tones:

Shadows -> Mid-darks -> Midtones -> Mid-highs – Highlights

Now, looking at the verticals on the grid, we can establish how much of each type of tone we have already in the image. The higher the level on the histogram, the more of that tone there is. Looking at the histogram for this example image, I can see that there is a spike in the quarter representing shadows to mid-darks but next to nothing in the mid-highs to highlights, so none of the tones in my image are blown out to white or pure-black. Make sense? Understanding the tonal range of your image is part of the key to perfecting your use of the curves tool, because the next step is manipulating it. Oooer.

You can use the RGB channel of the curves layer to accurately tinker with the contrast levels in your image. One of the most common ways of doing this is by creating an “S-shape” curve. Click right in the centre of the grid to begin with and you’ll see a little dot appear – this has now anchored your midtones. Next up, click and drag the line down on the mid-darks area to make them darker and then click and drag the line up over the mid-highs area to boost those and make them brighter. See how crazy contrasty that just made things?

On the other hand, you might want to make your image somewhat less contrast-tastic. If this is the case, anchor those mid-tones again and then click and drag the line up from the bottom left corner to make the shadows (and everything up to that midtone anchor) lighter, then click and drag the line down from the top right corner to make the highlights (and everything from the midtone anchor) a bit darker.

If you want to really start being brave and adding more points to warp your image tones, here’s a little peek at the RGB channel points I’ve used to create a slightly filmic overall tone. I’ve dragged some of the mid-darks down to create contrast, but also opted to bring the shadows up and the highlights down a bit to add some vintage-style fade to the effect. The best thing to do is just have a play and see what effects you can create by wiggling various points around on the graph. Sometimes it’ll look dreadful, sometimes it’ll look mega – don’t be afraid to experiment here.

Hopefully you’re starting to see how super freakin’ powerful this adjustment layer is / understand where the main tone points are now? Yep? Good, because the next step is:

Colour Toning

Ohhh yesss! As if the contrast tricks weren’t enough, you can also use curves to do beautiful things to the colours in your image. This adjustment just keeps on giving.

First of all, you’re going to need to find the “red” channel on the adjustment layer. If you look just above the graph where it says “RGB” you should see a little arrow on the far right of that box? Click that and scroll down to the “red” option to select our new colour channel of choice. Fun colour times, here we come.

Now, in the same way that shadows are opposite to highlights on the grid, each of our colour channels has its opposite colour. Learning these will ultimately help you out with a huge number of other colour editing tools, not just curves, so they’re well worth memorising. Here’s what you need to know:

Red – Cyan

Green – Magenta

Blue – Yellow

Let’s start with red. Any point now pulled upwards or left will increase the amount of red in that tonal area. Any point pulled downwards or right will therefore increase the amount of red’s opposite colour, cyan, in that tonal area. In the above image, I’ve set the midpoint once again and pulled the shadows end of the red right up – can you see how the shadows and mid-darks have now taken on a much redder hue?

To then do the opposite, keeping that midpoint anchored, I’ve dragged the highlights point right down. All of the mid-highs to highlights are now somewhat cyan-tinted.

If I wanted to be a bit more subtle and just give a slightly warmer red tint to the shadows only, I could add another anchor point over the mid-darks intersection and then drag the shadows point slightly upwards. Using those same / similar anchor points I could also choose to give the shadows a cyan tint by dragging the shadow point to the right across the bottom of the graph.

This colour opposites theme continues through the “Green” and “Blue” channels. I’ll not show you the extremes of each because the theory remains the same as above, but here a couple of my personal favourite tricks:

For slightly pinker highlights, select the green channel and set an anchor point or two over the midtones and mid-highs, then drag the highlight end down. This increases the magenta in the highlights and can do lovely things to skin tones if done subtly enough.

If you wanna get super vintage about things, get yourself over to the blue channel right now! For that dreamy vintage / slightly fairytale vibe, push the shadow point right up and pull the highlight point down, midtone anchoring optional. I usually tend to go for the slightly more subtle option here, which is just to slightly tint with this technique:

And there you have it! Photoshop Colour Curves in a few easy steps. Hopefully it made some modicum of sense and I haven’t just confused you further. If there’s anything you’d like clarification on or if you think I’ve made any glaring omissions in this guide, hit the comment button! Tutorials are a totally new thing for me, so if there are any ways in which I could improve here, I’d genuinely appreciate your feedback.

Love to the lot of you,

E x


P.S. If you edit something awesome using what you’ve learned from this tutorial, I’d LOVE to see it! Send me your Flickr / FB links or just post your work in a comment.

P.P.S. Fancy getting your paws on one of my own colour curve presets? “Waiting For Spring” has been created especially to go along with this blog. All you’ve got to do is (publically) share your favourite image from my Facebook page and then send me a message on there to say you’ve done so. Simples! 

Find out more about Elly and her photography via www.ellylucas.co.uk or email ellylucasetc@googlemail.com