Well, what a busy old year it was in 2016.
It was a sad year for me personally, as my Grandad passed away. But he was 94 years old and he'd had a long life - The only thing I wanted was all his photo albums - There are many, many albums and I haven't looked through them all yet. He has albums from when I was small, playing in his back garden, right through to holidays in Australia, right through to his kids, my dad, when he was small. It got me thinking, most of us just store photos on hard drives these days, instead of in albums. Will we have anything tangible to pass down the generations? A lot of customers just want digital downloads for the ease and that is fine - however, hard drives can fail - could generations of photos be lost? I do hope not - and that's one of the reasons I always recommend getting a wedding album. An album is something real, you can touch it, feel it, look through it - and it will last the decades. It's food for thought, isn't it?
I have two particular sides to my business - the Portrait side and the Wedding side. I'll start by talking about the Portrait side first. I started the year with two special time-limited offers that were promoted on the special offer site, Groupon. One was for a family photoshoot & the other was for a baby plan offer. These offers brought lots of new customers to my business over Jan and Feb 2016 and kept me VERY busy on the portrait-side of things at the start of the year. A family photoshoot is great fun. It a chance to jump around and tickle each other, to maybe use some of my photobooth style props and be silly. You can also bring pets, so long as they are friendly. I ran studio photoshoots all year round; in general, the studio always gets busier from October to December, in the run up to Christmas - and 2016 was no exception to this rule. Here is one of my favorite studio photoshoot images, from last year.
As well as studio portraits, I also did plenty of on location shoots over 2016 too. I do love a good on-location session. And they are perfect for any time of the year. It's actually one of my favourite type of shoots to do, especially on a gloriously warm afternoon. I mean, what could be better than meeting a family for a lovely walk through the woods on a sunny afternoon? Sometimes it is great being your own boss!
The baby plan offer was also very successful, but very time consuming as a newborn baby shoot can take up to 4 to 5 hours alone, depending on how well your baby settles. Working with newborn babies, you have to be very patient. It is not unusual to spend an hour or so settling the baby to sleep before I even take my first photo. However, this effort is well worth it to capture your tiny baby, while they are still so small.
I decided to make some changes to my newborn shoots in 2016. Newborn shoots are very hard work. It is a full days job too, as I can only book one baby shoot in a day as I never know quite how long you will need, as each baby is different. The average length of time for a newborn shoot is 3 hours, but it can be longer, depending on how well your baby settles. There is no pressure as I now do my newborn shoot as an all-inclusive package, with images included. I book you in, in the morning, take as long as we need to do the shoot, then edit the photos in the afternoon, so you'll have them in the evening on the same day as your shoot. I include a minimum of 36 digital downloads. However, if you have a good baby, who breezes through the whole thing like a super-top-model, I just give you any extra images we create for free. You can also order prints, canvas, framed prints and albums too, for that special keepsake.
Although the majority of my Portrait / Studio work is with families and babies, I also do some Nail Art shoots for local salons too. This is mostly for photographic competitions. The theme for one of the comps this year was Astrology - see if you can guess which star sign is represented below....
It is usually quite good fun when we do the Nail Art shoots and it is good to get a bit creative too. This year, new for 2016, I also introduced the colour fun shoot - which basically entails meeting me at a local spot and then getting very messy! I bring along several packets of coloured dye and then we let loose! It is a fun shoot to do with a group of kids or a group of mates.
With regards my baby sessions, it is not just newborn that I do. I also do baby shoots when your baby can lift their head all by themselves when laid on their tummy - I call this the 'tummy Time' shoot. Then I do a shoot called The Sitting Up shoot, which is obviously when they learn to sit by them selves without wobbling over - the final baby shoot I offer is the cake smash shoot for first birthday - It is another messy one, but I do love to see babies getting stuck straight in! 2016 was a busy year for Cake-Smash. I dread to think of the total hours I have spent cleaning the studio after each one!
If you are having your little one Christened, I also have a Christening / Baptism package too. 2016 was a busy year for Christenings. I treat a Christening like a mini wedding, in my approach to capturing all the details of the day. I have to admit, I don't like to take too many Christening bookings on because Sunday is usually my only day off. When you are your own boss, it is hard to maintain a good work / life balance sometimes, especially in the busy summer wedding season.
And on to weddings. I absolutely love shooting weddings. 2016 was a busy year with 25 weddings as opposed to my average of around 15 usually. Every couple get a free pre-wedding shoot so you can have a practice in front of the camera before your big day. If you are at all nervous in front of the camera, it's a perfect way to get those nerves out of the way! My fav pre-wedding shot of the year was with Adam and Yazmin at a little farm where Yaz has horses. It was cool to get to go and play on a farm! When shooting your big day, I shoot in 'Chapters', so your images build up to 'tell the story' of your day. Here are a few of my favorite wedding images from 2016.
So, now to look forward to 2017. I am starting the year with a 'Love is in the air' promotion on new wedding bookings - and a Valentines day couples mini-photoshoot. This year I plan to make some improvements to my little studio, including making a changing room and better storage facilities for all my props. I'm also currently looking for new props too. I absolutely love prop-shopping!
Here's to 2017 and all my clients old and new who grow my business each year! Thankyou, each and every one of you!