Monthly Archives: January 2015

Why Photographers Should Keep Great Client Records

This month I have been working with a photographer who is running a successful family portrait business. She has been busy booking and shooting local family portraits very consistently for 18 months. It’s a good news story. She is enjoying creating images for local families and is running a healthy business. Right now she faces a slow down in her bookings, and has asked me to help. It has reminded me again why photographers should keep great client records.

To help her, together we have been working through each aspect of her business reviewing what is working, and what is not. Overall it is a very positive picture. She has been busy for 18 months and has a large group of happy clients.

Thinking About Clients

Thinking about clients? Good record keeping will helps generate new work from past clients.

In our discussion, her first question was ‘I’ve never had a slowdown in bookings before – how do I generate more clients?’ My response was – maybe you don’t need new clients. Maybe you just need to contact your old clients to see if you can help them again.

As an example, one of her first clients had a 4 year old and a new born child. It was the arrival of the baby that prompted the family to have the first portrait shoot. My suggestion was that she re-contact this client. The family’s 4 year old will be just over 5 now and is likely to be starting school – what a great time to do another family portrait session. And then we realized – the photographer hadn’t kept contact details for each client. She didn’t have a way to easily contact the family to explore a second shoot.

So that leads us to, why photographers should keep great client records. I have summarized it into 5 key reasons:

(1) Past clients should be future clients. If a client is happy with your service once, they are more likely to be your client again – but you need to have kept their contact details and relevant information. Only a small percentage of past clients will spontaneously contact you years after the original shoot. Collect relevant client information, so you can use it in future.

(2) Times change, but the photographer doesn’t need to. In family photography there is natural change as children grow up. If you have a client with a new born baby, it won’t be long until there are toddler pictures to shoot, birthday parties, and then shots as the child starts school. This progression continues through primary school and into high school. If you do it really well, you may end up shooting their high school graduation images, on to their wedding, and their own children. Think of your client as a relationship you will nurture, not as a one time ‘job’.

Baby in hat

In family photography, there is a natural on going demand for images as the child grows

(3) Clients will send you referrals – make it easy for them. All photographers find that happy clients send them referrals. This is easier for clients if you have kept in touch with them. I sure don’t want a client I worked with saying ‘we’re really happy with the images, but I can’t remember the name of the photographer’. Keeping good records helps you stay in touch. And staying in touch makes it easy for clients to send you referrals.

(4) Past clients are a great source of ‘short notice’ bookings. If you have an opening in your schedule for a shoot next week, past clients offer great potential to fill that gap. Here is the main part of an email I sent to a past client 4 weeks ago “Hi R, I hope you and P are going well. I have had a client cancel their session next Sunday, so I wondered if you would like to do a mini family shoot before the kids go back to school? My normal price is $XXX but as you are my existing client I can offer it to you for $YYY. If you are interested, we can do it in the park near your home. What do you think?” If you have kept your clients email and mobile phone details this is a fast, effective way to fill your calendar.

(5) Happy clients will write testimonials. Social media has made it very easy for word to spread quickly. As photographers offering a service to our clients we need to make the most of this. Keeping good client records makes it easy to ask for testimonials and feedback, which helps to generate more clients.

The photographer who asked for my help now has a system for recording client details and a plan for how and when to contact them. She came to me with a short term business problem, and now has a plan for long term success. I hope this has been helpful to you too, and that you understand why photographers should keep great client records.


Flash Batteries That Last

Over this weekend I fulfilled my role as a Melbourne wedding photographer, by shooting a wedding in Doncaster. It was a full day shoot, starting at 10.45am with preparation images, continuing through the ceremony, a garden location for couple and family images, and then the reception. My second shooter and I finished up just after 9pm. I carry backups for all key equipment – 2 camera bodies, 4 lenses, multiple memory cards, and lots of batteries. Recently I changed the brand of batteries I use and have found flash batteries that last.

Eneloop batteries

Eneloop batteries managed a 10 hour shoot without needing to be changed

The brand of batteries I use now is Eneloop. Prior to using these, I have used all the major battery brands. I predominantly use rechargeable batteries, but have also used the non rechargeable ones as well. That normally means changing flash batteries several times during the day to make sure I am not let down by the batteries recycling at a critical time and missing a key shot.

That has all changed with Eneloop batteries. I carry 2 flash units with 4 AA Eneloop batteries in each. (Because I use 2 flash units they are only working half as hard as a single unit might). I used the flashes intermittently throughout the 10 hour day, and extensively during the evening reception. I didn’t need to change batteries for that entire time and the flash was recycling just as fast at the end of the day as it was at the beginning. These are flash batteries that last.

Moving to Eneloop batteries has eliminated one additional thing to plan for on wedding days – changing flash batteries. While I will still carry backup batteries, I am not expecting to need them. This allows me to focus on the client, and making great images.
If you are looking for flash batteries that last – I recommend looking into Eneloop. I bought mine online, and have found they are available from all the major online retailers of batteries.

Disclosure – please note, that I recommend Eneloop batteries as I use them myself and have found them to be superior to the previous batteries I had been using. I don’t receive anything from Eneloop for promoting their products.

Thank you for reading – Flash Batteries That Last. If you would like to receive regular updates from Beyond Here, please add your email address to the sign up box.

Request Your iStock Payment Today

Pay Day

21 January 2015 is the final day to make an iStock payment request

iStock, one of the best known microstock photography sites, is making changes to its payment frequency. Instead of being able to request payment once a week, from the end of January 2015, payments will automatically be made once per month. So, if you would like to request one more payment, request your iStock payment today.

What are the key dates? Wednesday 21 January 2015 is the final date to request a payment.

What then? After January 2015, money left in your iStock account at the end of each month (above the minimum payment threshold) will automatically be paid to you on the 25th of the following month. For example, if you have $376 in your iStock account at the end of February, this will be paid to you on 25 March.

What do you need to do? To make a final payment request, do that today (21 January 2015). To receive the automatic monthly payments beyond January 2015, you need to register how you want the payment to be made and your tax details. You can enter these details on your account after 22 January 2015 on the iStock website.

Thanks for reading ‘Request Your iStock Payment Today’. If you are an iStock contributor I hope this has been useful to you. If you are not an iStock contributor and would like to learn more about stock photography please see this post – Starting In Stock Photography.

iStock Changes Payment Frequency

Beyond Here has been following the changes in the micro stock photography industry, and particularly the changes at iStock. This coming week, on 21 January 2015, iStock changes payment frequency options for contributors.

Previously contributors were able to request payment of their earnings on a weekly basis as long as their earnings were above the minimum payment threshold. That process was outlined in the earlier post How Does Payment from Stock Photography Work.


Midnight on 21 January 2015 (PST) is the final date you will be able to request a weekly payment of earnings from iStock

What are the changes? 21 January 2015 is the final date that iStock contributors will be able to request a payment of earnings. After this date, contributors will be automatically paid on a monthly basis, as long as they are above the minimum payment threshold and have entered their payment details.

Who will this impact? This change will effect all iStock contributors. This isn’t an opt in or opt out exercise, it is a change in the way that iStock operates to be more in line with its parent company, Getty Images.

What impact will it have? This change will have the biggest impact on contributors who are currently requesting a payment on a weekly basis. Instead of the steady cash flow of a weekly payment, those contributors will be paid monthly. To operate their businesses they will need to plan for the more ‘lumpy’ cash flow of monthly payments. Ironically those that it will impact the most are those contributors who generate all or most of their income from iStock and rely on the weekly cash flow.

What benefits are there? Not many that I can see from a contributors point of view. For iStock it will simplify their payment processes and presumably bring some cost savings. How that might be reinvested for benefits for contributors or customers hasn’t been made clear by iStock yet.

What do I need to do? If you are an iStock contributor and wish to make a final payment request – this needs to be done by 21 January 2015 at midnight MST. Keep in mind the time difference to where you live. Then you need to make sure your payment details are entered in your profile so that you can be automatically paid on a monthly basis. That first monthly payment will be made on 25 February 2015.

Thanks for reading ‘iStock Changes Payment Frequency’. If you are running or plan to run a photography business and would like regular articles from Beyond Here, please sign up in the area in the margin of this blog.

8 Tips For Being A Great Second Shooter

Being a second shooter is a great way to start in wedding photography. There are many advantages to being a second shooter – primarily that the success of the assignment is not totally dependent on you. That makes it a lower stress entry point, and gives you the opportunity to learn your craft while assisting the primary photographer. Following posts on 6 Reasons To Work With A Second Shooter, and 7 Qualities To Look For In A Second Shooter, here are 8 Tips For Being A Great Second Shooter.

Tip 1 – Work Well With People. Creating a great client experience is not only about the images. The photographer also has a responsibility to treat the couple and guests with respect, and to make sure they enjoy the day. As a second shooter guests will ask how many weddings you shoot, what equipment you use, and a variety of other questions. It is important to treat them well so that their interaction with you is positive. It ensures everyone enjoys the day, and reflects well on you and the primary photographer.


Consciously creating different images will add variety for the client

Tip 2 – Think Ahead. A very good second shooter can anticipate shots and will prepare equipment in advance. Nothing is more impressive than to turn to call for a reflector, and seeing the second shooter there with one on hand ready to go. This takes time and practice, and requires a strong sense of teamwork with the primary photographer. If you want to be a great second shooter – think ahead.

Tip 3 – Clean Your Equipment. Images from the second shooter are important to the overall package delivered to the client. It is important that the equipment that both photographers are using is clean and will produce high quality images. Nothing will frustrate a primary photographer more than looking at the second shooters images and seeing every image effected by dust spots on the sensor. Take responsibility for making sure your equipment is clean and ready to produce the highest quality images possible.

Tip 4 – Be Predictable. Being predictable is about communicating with the primary photographer. Talk about where you will stand during the ceremony and what type of shots the primary photographer wants from you. Talk through the plan for the day and the role you will play. Talk to the primary photographer if you need to take a toilet break. At a recent wedding where I was a guest, the primary shooter turned to find the second shooter only to later discover he had gone to the car just at the moment he was needed. Don’t be that second shooter. Keep the primary photographer informed.

Tip 5 – Shoot Differently. The second shooter provides value to the primary photographer by providing different images to their own. Different angles, different styles, different images. Make the most of generating ‘different’ images by using different lenses. For example, if the primary shooter is using a 50mm lens, work with a 70-200mm. Consciously create different images by using different equipment than the primary photographer.

Tip 6 – Behave Professionally. As well as shooting images, the second shooter is representing the primary photographers’ business. You are there to get a job done – not to make friends or to join the party.

Tip 7 – Dress Appropriately. At a formal wedding it creates a very poor impression if the photographers are dressed casually. Imagine the bride and groom dressed beautifully, and the second shooter getting around in old jeans and worn shoes. This doesn’t create a good impression and doesn’t add to the clients enjoyment of the day. Make sure you understand the expectation of the bride and groom and dress appropriately.

Tip 8 – Be Reliable. To be a great second shooter you need to form a strong team with the primary photographer. If you want to quickly build trust, be reliable in everything you do. Arrive on time. Do what you say you are going to do. Know where all the equipment is. A second shooter who is reliable is a huge asset to a primary photographer.

Thanks for reading 8 Tips For Being A Great Second Shooter. If you can follow these tips you will have primary shooters regularly asking you to work with them.

7 Qualities To Look For In A Second Shooter

In a recent post on Beyond Here we looked at 6 Reasons To Work With A Second Shooter. A high quality second shooter is a major asset to a wedding photographer and so much more than just another camera. In this post we look at the 7 Qualities To Look For In A Second Shooter. I assume that your second shooter has photographic ability and can produce images which meet your expectations. In addition to that ability, here are 7 qualities to look for in a second shooter.

Quality 1 – Team Player. There will be times where a second shooter needs to do things that are not glamorous – like keeping guests occupied while wedding party formals are completed, or carrying bags to locations. These tasks are key to the smooth running of the wedding photography, and your second shooter needs to do what is required for the team to get a great result. Look for a team player.

Quality 2 – Strengths That Compliment The Primary Shooter.  Ideally your second shooter will have skills which compliment the primary shooter. One of my second shooters has a passion for shooting the macro details of a wedding. This is ideal. When we arrive I would rather speak with the bride and the bridal party and shoot preparation images. At that time my second shooter loves to shoot the details – jewellery, shoes, invitations, the dress etc. It is fantastic that my second shooter has strengths that compliment my own. Together we can deliver a great outcome for the client.

Wedding Rings

Ideally a second shooters strengths will compliment the primary shooter

Quality 3 – Thinking Ahead. A good second shooter will be able to think ahead and anticipate future shots. This can help the primary shooter, as the second shooter can have equipment ready or be in a position which makes the most of the opportunity. The ability to think ahead and anticipate shots is a key quality of a good second shooter.

Quality 4 – Quality Equipment. When the second shooter is using their own equipment it is important that the quality of images they produce are acceptable to the primary photographer. I use Canon full frame camera bodies and L series lenses, and prefer if my second shooter has similar equipment. Check that your second shooter has equipment which will produce quality images.

Quality 5 – Reliable. It almost goes without saying that being reliable is important. In the wedding photography industry it is easy to focus only on the creative and artistic outputs. Doing that overlooks personal qualities that make the job easier. A second shooter needs to be reliable.

Quality 6 – Good Communicator. Along with being reliable and a team player, an effective second shooter is also a good communicator. A strong primary / second shooter combination know what each other are doing and where each other are. It is not ok for the primary shooter to look for the second shooter and not be able to find them. Good communication skills are key.

Quality 7 – Gets on With People. The wedding day is filled with people and high emotions. A second shooter will interact with the wedding party and with guests. In those interactions they are representing the primary shooters business. Being able to get on with people is important to make sure the friends and family of the wedding couple have an enjoyable day. I look for second shooters that I know will represent my business well, and who will ensure that the guests enjoy the wedding day.

Thanks for reading ‘7 Qualities to Look for in a Second Shooter’. I hope it has been useful to you. You may be interested in Preparing for Wedding Photography Success and 7 Tips For Your First Wedding Photography Job.

6 Reasons To Work With A Second Shooter

When photographers start out shooting weddings, we tend to think it is all about our own creative vision. The client has hired us because they like our work, and hope we can produce lovely wedding images for them. Then, because its all about us, our images, and being ‘wedding photographers’, we choose to shoot our first wedding solo. Only after we have shot several weddings do we realize that it’s not about us – it is about meeting the needs of our client. We also realize that a second shooter can be so much more than just another camera capturing different angles. So if you are starting out – here are 6 reasons to work with a second shooter for your wedding photography.

Second Shooter

A second shooter can be much more than just an extra camera

Reason 1 – It Makes Looking After Your Client Easier. On wedding day there are invariably times when it is very handy to have someone to work with as a team. Commonly ‘Auntie’ goes walk-about at the time of the family formals. Your second shooter can find her while you carry on with the bridal party. Or while you are shooting one image, you can see another shot which will need a different lens. Your second shooter can put the lens on your second camera body, enabling you to quickly move on to the next shot. Having someone on hand to assist lets you focus on meeting you clients needs while they act as support.

Reason 2 – Different Photographers, Different Perspectives. A second shooter provides different angles on events of the day. If the primary shooter positions themselves at the front of the ceremony, the second shooter can add to the final images by being positioned at the back of the ceremony. This is just one example of the additional range of images which can be produced by having a second shooter.

Reason 3 – You Can’t Be Everywhere. As the primary photographer, you can’t be everywhere. As the bride walks up the aisle you can’t simultaneously be in front and behind her. Both shots can look great.  Partnering with a second shooter gives you more capability to capture key shots for your client than you can do alone.

Reason 4 – Wedding Photography is Hard Work. For any photographer, weddings are hard work. There is a lot happening and it is a long day. Sharing that workload with a second shooter helps to keep you fresh and ready to shoot another wedding tomorrow and another one next week. Going alone, leads to exhaustion. A second shooter is valuable to keep you fresh.

Reason 5 – Back Up is Important. It is hard to plan for days when we are sick or injured. In reality it doesn’t happen very often and it is easy to think that planning for this is so unlikely that it is not necessary. That sentence should be a warning sign for you. If your client is relying on you, it is important not to let them down. Your reputation depends on it. Not only will a second shooter give you a variety of different images – if you have chosen your second shooter well, they can step up and take the primary position if you are sick or injured.

Reason 6 – Some Shots Need Help. It is reality that some shots need assistance. My clients regularly ask for a shot of all of the guests to be taken after the ceremony. When there are natural points of elevation this is quite straightforward. I can gather the bridal party and guests and use a vantage point to shoot down on the whole group. But when there isn’t a natural point of elevation – like a set of stairs or a second floor window – I use a ladder. This is where a second shooter becomes ladder carrying assistant! My second shooter can walk to the car, grab the ladder, and have it in place for the group shot – all while I am still shooting bridal party formals. Then when we move to the group shot, it can be set up and shot with minimal disruption to the flow of the day.

Thanks for reading 6 reasons to work with a second shooter for your wedding photography. A second shooter can be a key business partner and so much more than just another camera. What is your experience? Did you start shooting solo? Do you work with a second shooter now? What lessons would you like to share?