Monthly Archives: February 2015

Maternity Photography Props

Today’s post is the first in a series of guest posts from Propjar.

Propjar is all about props. They supply photography props for new born, maternity, family and portrait photo shoots. Based in Melbourne, Australia they ship their products worldwide. For shipping within Australia – all shipping is currently free. And for international addresses, shipping is currently free for all orders over $50. Check out the Propjar website for more details. Read on for more about maternity photography props.

Maternity dress

Propjar is based in Melbourne, Australia with shipping available worldwide. Picture copyright Southern Haze Photography

Capturing the journey of a mum-to-be in a maternity shoot has become a popular way to record one of the most special moments in the life of a young family. This moment that has been entrusted to you as a photographer is truly a special one, and one that can set your photography business apart through building a unique bond with your customer on this journey. Building this bond and rapport with your customer is crucial in knowing how to capture this special time. There are many styles of gorgeous long flowing dresses that can be used, for example a long flowing dress such as the Pink Lace Maternity Dress below, that splits in the middle. The crucial part of all of this is understanding your customers personality and what they are comfortable with. Remember, this is about their journey, and how they would like to share their journey with family and friends.

Maternity dress

A Propjar pink lace maternity dress used on this glowing mum. Copyright BeccyRose Photography

One way of using the Propjar Lace Maternity Dress can be as a skirt with the sash as a bodice. This has been used to great effect in this photo.

Maternity dress

Propjar maternity dress. Picture copyright BeccyRose Photography

Here’s the thing, not all women feel confident enough to bare their bellies. Secretly they would LOVE to have images of this magical time, but are not all together comfortable doing it. This is a potential sale lost to your business. As a photographer you have an opportunity to show how magical the moment in maternity photography can be, setting yourself apart from other photography businesses. This may be what also leads a potential customer to choose you to capture their family’s special moments once their newborn arrives. One way to ensure you have the comfort of your customers in mind is to invest in a few dresses that are not all that revealing but still celebrate the pregnant form.

Grace Dress

Propjar Chiffon Maternity Dress. Picture copyright Southern Haze Photography

For example, the Propjar Grace Dress in this photo comes in a range of colors and is a soft, flowing dress.

Stella Maternity Dress

Propjar Grace Dress. Picture copyright Southern Haze Photography

Maternity Dress

Maternity dress used in an outdoors setting. Picture copyright Southern Haze Photography

The Propjar Stella Maternity Dress in this photo has a beautiful, timeless vintage look it which captures the moment perfectly.

Let Propjar help you to create beautiful maternity images so that ALL women not only feel comfortable, but beautiful while capturing this special time in their lives.

Thank you to Julie and Victor at Propjar for this post for Beyond Here. Appropriate maternity photography props can really help a photographer create outstanding maternity images. If you are looking for a great source of those props, please visit the Propjar website.


Investing in Relationships

When I started Beyond Here, I had in mind that the content should apply to photographers, and also to people running other creative businesses. That has only partly been the case so far. Most readers right now are photographers. This weekend I ran across a great example of a business principle that applies to any personal service business. Investing in relationships, can be much more valuable than any revenue generated by a single job.

The incident happened with my hairdresser.

I have been getting my haircut by the same hairdresser since 2008. I had her recommended to me (by my wife!). I first visited her when she was running her hairdressing business from the basement of her house. Not too long after that, she opened a retail outlet on a suburban main road in Melbourne, Australia. Despite occasional frustrations with car parking, I continue to visit regularly. Now she has a second retail outlet with staff running both shops. She continues to cut hair, and shares her time between the 2 salons.


Choices. This weekend my hairdresser chose to invest in the client relationship and forgo the money from one hair cut.

On this occasion I visited the newer salon. I hadn’t been to that outlet before, as it is quite a bit further from where I live. To fit in with my hairdressers schedule, I agreed to go to her new salon. So far, so good.

Now, I am a stickler for being on time – and she is too. I regularly arrive early, and nearly every time she is ready early or on time, and occasionally just a little late. This weekend, I arrived 30 minutes before my appointment time. I didn’t mean to arrive that early, I had allowed too much time, there was little traffic, and I got a car park 25m from the salon front door.

When I arrived we said hello. The salon was busy. She asked me to wait to my appointment time (which I expected to). I set about reading a magazine, and surfing on my iphone. My appointment time came and went. Twenty minutes after my appointment time I was still waiting and starting to get frustrated. I had been reading a trashy magazine for 50 minutes now – 30 minutes being my fault for being so early, and 20 minutes more as my hairdresser was running late on her appointments.

When the haircut began, she asked where my car was parked. I explained it was outside. She explained that unfortunately it is only a 60 minute parking zone. She was genuinely concerned that I would be there for over an hour. I appreciated her concern, but wasn’t very excited about the idea of running late and getting a parking ticket. (I was even less excited when I realized how much grey hair was showing through!) At this point, I was getting slightly cranky, but doing my best not to show it. My hairdresser is a great person, and has been cutting my hair for years. I wasn’t about to let being a few minutes late and a parking ticket ruin that history.

Now, cutting my hair isn’t a very lengthy experience. I was all done in less than 20 minutes. As we finished she apologized for running late, but the next thing she did took me by surprise and reminded me of a great lesson. As I walked to the cashiers desk, I reached for my wallet. I wanted to pay and get moving so I wouldn’t have a parking ticket and wouldn’t be late for my next appointment. It was then she said – ‘Craig, this time its on me. See you next time’. I was genuinely shocked. I understand that sometimes things run late, and wasn’t expecting a free haircut.

Instead of having a loyal customer leaving feeling frustrated and cranky, I left feeling great that I was appreciated as a customer – she knew we had been unusually late and she wanted me to get moving so that I wouldn’t get a parking ticket. It was a great reminder that investing in relationships is worth much more than the money that would have been generated from that job. I will continue to be a loyal customer as long as my greying hair keeps growing.

As photographers or personal service business owners, investing in relationships is key to our long term success. Today I shot a 30 minute portrait shoot for a friend. I charged nothing. I decided this was my opportunity for investing in relationships. Have you got an ‘investing in relationships’ story to share?

Just in case you were wondering, I was parked in the 60 minute zone for about 75 minutes. I was pleased there wasn’t a parking ticket on my windscreen. All good, and a great reminder about investing in relationships.


Why Be Exclusive on iStock

This week I have had two separate people asking me questions about where to contribute their stock images. I see many benefits in being an exclusive contributor to one site. And that site for me is iStock. So, why be exclusive on iStock?

First, for anyone not familiar with iStock – it is one of the best known microstock photography websites. It is owned by Getty Images. I have been contributing to iStock since 2008, and have been an exclusive contributor since May 2010. (You can read an introduction to stock photography here).

When you start on iStock, you begin as an independent contributor on a royalty rate of 15%. Your royalty rate can increase as you have more downloads of your files. When you reach 250 downloads, you qualify to become exclusive if you want to.

Save time

Contributing to many stock sites can be time consuming. Being exclusive can be a great time saver.

Why be exclusive on iStock? For these 6 reasons:

1. Higher Royalties. As an independent contributor your royalty rate starts at 15%. As an exclusive contributor that immediately jumps to 25%, and can go as high as 45% depending on your downloads and ‘redeemed credits’ (I will save an explanation of redeemed credits for another post). The point is iStock pay higher royalties for exclusive contributors.

2. Different Collections. Independent contributors files go into a collection called Essentials. These files cost 1 credit each. Exclusive contributors can also have files in the Essentials collection, but their new files default into the Signature collection. Signature collection files cost 3 credits, so again, exclusives can earn higher royalties by having files in a higher priced collection.

3. Better File Placement. Where your files appear in search results is driven by a complex algorithm. One factor is whether the contributor is exclusive. Exclusive files will generally, but not always, appear before independent files giving them a better chance of being downloaded by the buyer.

4. Time. Uploading and key wording images to multiple different sites is time consuming. While there are tools available to make this process easier – for me, I enjoy spending more time shooting or relaxing, and less time uploading and key wording.

5. Faster Inspection Times. Exclusive files have their own inspection queue which generally has a turn around of less than 24 hours. Its nice to upload files knowing they will be reviewed promptly, and displayed in the search results soon after.

Australian dollar

Being exclusive offers higher royalties and access to different collections

6. Getty Images. Files from the Signature+ collection are automatically mirrored onto the main Getty Images website. To get files into the Signature+ collection, exclusive contributors can nominate them at the time they are submitted. They will then be inspected for inclusion in the Signature+ collection. Having files on the Getty Images website is an additional place for your files to be downloaded from. The Getty Images royalties is a significant and growing part of my monthly royalties.

So, why be exclusive on iStock? Those are the 6 reasons for me. Exclusivity has worked very well for me, and helped stock to become a key component of my photography income. I am happy to answer any questions on iStock exclusivity – please leave a question on this post. Equally, if you have experience to share with Beyond Here readers, please use the comments section under this post. Thanks for reading ‘why be exclusive on iStock’.

Why Stock Photographers Should Crash Their Cars

Let’s just clarify one thing up front in this post, I am not really suggesting you have an accident in your vehicle! I don’t want you to cause any damage, get hurt, or run into problems with your insurance company! I want to make a point as you consider subjects for your stock photography portfolio, and hence the title ‘Why Stock Photographers Should Crash Their Cars’. Read on, I will explain.

I have written blog posts for Beyond Here on a range of subjects related to stock photography. It has been very exciting that many readers have opened stock photography accounts and are now turning their hobby into an income. In the age of digital cameras and the internet, generating an income through stock photography is open to nearly everyone. If you are reading this blog online and you have access to a digital camera, it is open to you.

If you haven’t read those posts, you can find some of them here.

When you are starting in stock photography it is easy to think that your stock images need to be outstanding or very creative. I have found that isn’t the case, and that well lit ‘every day’ images have a market.

That point was reinforced to me this week, when this image was downloaded from my iStock portfolio again. To date, it has been downloaded over 150 times and has generated over US$700 in royalties.

Car Accident

Successful stock images need to be useful not outstanding

So how did this image come about? Unfortunately this is my car! Several years ago it was accidentally backed into the front fence outside our house (not by me!) leaving a dent in the side of the vehicle. I took some shots thinking they were potential stock images which could be used by businesses in the car repair or car insurance industries.

This specific image was taken several weeks after the accident, when I had been out shooting sunrise images. The space in the car park, and the morning light, created a more useful image than the ones I had previously taken in my drive way.

This has turned out to be true and the image has sold steadily since I uploaded it in 2010. At the time I made an insurance claim and, after I paid the policy excess of A$500, the insurance company had the vehicle repaired. It has generated just over US$700 in royalties which, based on today’s exchange rate, is the equivalent to around $900 in Australian dollars. So it cost me $500 and has so far generated $900 in royalties, and that’s why stock photographers should crash their cars.

The point is that successful stock images don’t need to be high impact, creative images – they need to be useful. If you keep looking for everyday useful images you will find that potential stock images are all around you. Shoot them in good light conditions and you will be building a stock portfolio which generates royalty income every day. Thanks for reading ‘why stock photographers should crash their cars’ and please don’t go out and have an accident. Drive safely!

Shooting at Eye Level

Want to add more interest to your wildlife, nature, or children’s shots? Shooting at eye level will do it. The alternative is to shoot down on to your subject. While that downward view is the one we see most often with our eye, shooting at your subjects eye level is almost always the more interesting shot. This technique works particularly well with wildlife, children, and flowers. It can take time and effort to get down to your subjects level but it will be worth it for the unique angles and improved shots.

Here are 3 examples.

Duck on lake

Shooting at eye level here meant lying on the ground

In this image of a duck paddling across a lake it was tricky to get down to the duck’s eye level. To make this shot I lay face down on the ground to get a “duck’s eye” view. People walking past would have thought I looked a little strange (!) but I achieved a series of interesting wildlife images – all taken from a duck’s eye point of view. It was a calm day and the reflection was a bonus.

In example two, a child on his father’s shoulder, it was much easier to shoot at eye level. For this shot, the father was holding the son on his shoulder trying to calm him down. Rather than being ‘down time’ in our family portrait session, it was a great opportunity to shoot an eye level portrait of the child. And briefly he stared directly at me. Nice one.


Shooting at eye level will add interest to children’s portraits

Example 3 are tulips. Rather than shooting down from above flowers, try getting down very low and using the sky as your background. It eliminates a muddy, dirty background and replaces it with a blue plain background which highlights the color of the flowers. It isn’t strictly ‘shooting at eye level’ but it is a very different angle than shooting down from above. It can be challenging to shoot flowers differently – but getting down very low is a great place to start.


Shooting flowers from a very low angle can create unique images

Shooting at eye level often produces outstanding images. Keep this in mind next time you are shooting wildlife, children or flowers.




5 Tips for a More Effective Workflow

An effective workflow is the difference between efficiently completing one job and moving on to the next, and being tied to your computer seemingly not able to complete the current job. As a Melbourne wedding photographer, I am proud of the efficient work flow that I have built. It is working for me and my business, and also for my clients. As we are in the middle of the summer wedding season here in Australia, I have challenged myself to further improve my workflow. Here are 5 tips for a more effective workflow.

workflow tips

An efficient workflow is particularly important in wedding photography

Tip #1 – Don’t overshoot – too many images can be a killer for your work flow. This does get easier with experience, but once you have the shots you need there is no value in generating 20 more of the same subject. Or 30 more, or 40 more. For example, when shooting a wedding I want a small number of good shots of the wedding rings. I want more than one image of the rings so that I have some options when I am putting together the clients album – but I don’t want lots and lots of them. When I have 4-5 good images, I stop. There is no point in having an additional 25 ring images to work my way through in post production. Get the shots you need and move on. Don’t overshoot. Too many images can be a hindrance to your workflow.

Tip #2 – Delete in camera – one very effective way to make sure the number of files you download to your computer is manageable is to delete images in camera as you go. At a wedding there are times when this is possible. They are normally the less hectic parts of the day like during the preparation. If I know I’ve ‘missed’ a shot I will delete it in camera rather than keep, download, review, and delete. I find this a very effective way to make sure only the best images make it to the post production phase of my workflow.

Tip #3 – Manage your clients expectations – one common ‘mistake’ I see from wedding photographers is not managing their clients expectations for the number of images which will be delivered to them. This is particularly the case if digital images are the only final product being delivered to the client. You don’t want to be in the situation of delivering 200 images when the bride was expecting 500. Have this discussion when you are finalizing the details of the shoot. If the client has unrealistic expectations talk to them about the “quality vs quantity” trade off.

Tip #4 – Be ruthless on the first cull – the big improvement I have made to my own workflow is being ruthless on the first cull. When I first sit down to review images, I now aim to halve the number of images on the first pass. Yes, I aim to delete one in every two images to quickly get to a manageable number of files. It’s possible. Be ruthless on the first cull.

Tip #5 – Keep to Task – The final tip is one which applies to me. It may not apply to you. When I am reviewing and deleting images I find it very easy to get distracted. I want to look at and edit the very best images from the shoot. This is counter productive and means the task of quickly moving to an appropriate number of files to edit gets delayed. Delays are not good for an efficient workflow. Keep to task.

Do you have some key tips to share from your own work flow? What are the improvements you’ve made? Or the pitfalls to avoid? Please add a comment on this post.

Thanks for reading 5 tips for a more effective workflow. I hope they have been useful to you. If you would like to receive regular emails from Beyond Here, add your email address in the sign up box on this page. Thank you.