Celebrate summer with the British Lung Foundation!

Raise funds for the British Lung Foundation by booking one of our limited edition mini sessions

The theme of these fundraising mini sessions is 'Fresh Summer Air', reflecting how lucky we are to have healthy lungs and to help those people who don’t. These portrait photography sessions are the ideal opportunity to capture the fun of being outdoors with your family or friends (including four-legged friends of course!).

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These limited edition mini sessions will be held on Friday 9th August in Llandudno’s beautiful Happy Valley. 100% of the £40 fee will be donated to the British Lung Foundation. We are proud to be members of Team Breathe4Bob, who are raising funds for the British Lung Foundation in memory of our dear friend Bob Reece, who sadly passed away in his 40s from pulmonary lung disease in 2018.

Booking a £40 mini session saves you £50 on our usual prices and gives you:

  • A 30 minute photography session in the beautiful Happy Valley, Llandudno (or our Llandudno studio if the weather’s bad)

  • Your three favourite images from the photoshoot as full resolution digital images, ready for you to print and share

  • Simple editing to get rid of any blemishes, runny noses or scuffed knees

  • A copy of our exclusive PDF booklet 'Preparing for a Photoshoot'

  • The opportunity to support the British Lung Foundation, with the whole of your £40 fee going to this great cause!

Places are limited, so make sure you book yours today. Call us on 01492 339 681 or book online using the button below.

Mother's Day mini sessions

Give a gift this Mother’s Day that will last forever with our studio portrait sessions.

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We’re running special mini sessions at our fabulous Llandudno studio on Saturday 16th March. Have the kids photographed as a surprise for their Mum, or bring the whole family along to create lasting memories.

Each mini session lasts for 30 minutes and costs £60 all-in. The fee includes:

  • The photoshoot itself with our friendly team

  • Post-production editing to make you all look your very best

  • Three high resolution digital images of your choice, ready for you to print and share

  • An online gallery for you to view at home and choose your images.

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Smiling together for the Stroke Association!

Raise funds for the Stroke Association Wales by booking one of our limited edition mini sessions

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The theme of these fundraising mini sessions is 'Smiling Together', reflecting the importance of loved ones' support to people who have suffered a stroke. Portrait photography sessions are the ideal opportunity to capture the love of your family or friends (including four-legged friends!).

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These limited edition mini sessions will be held on Friday 6th and Friday 13th of April. 100% of the £35 fee will be donated to the Stroke Association Wales.

Booking a £35 mini session saves you £80 on our usual prices and gives you:

  • A 30 minute photography session at at our fabulous studio in Llandudno for up to six people or pets
  • Your three favourite images from the photoshoot as full resolution digital images, ready for you to print and share
  • Simple editing to get rid of any blemishes, runny noses or scuffed knees
  • A copy of our exclusive PDF booklet 'Preparing for a Photoshoot'
  • The opportunity to support the Stroke Association Wales via the whole of your £35 fee!

Places are limited, so make sure you book yours today. Call us on 01492 339 681 or book online using the button below.

The Stroke Association is the UK's leading charity dedicated to conquering stroke. The charity delivers stroke services across the UK, campaigns for better stroke care, invests in research and fundraises to expand its reach to as many stroke survivors as possible. Find out more here.

Apply now for Fundraising Fridays

We're delighted to announce the launch of our new charity initiative, 'Fundraising Fridays', and we're inviting local charities to sign up. On Fundraising Fridays, usually the first Friday of every month, the studio will hold mini portrait sessions in aid of a local charity or fundraising scheme.

A four-legged model raising funds at our dog portrait mini sessions for the Dogs Trust

A four-legged model raising funds at our dog portrait mini sessions for the Dogs Trust

How will it work?

We will close the studio one Friday every month to leave the entire space free for the charity mini sessions. Members of the public can book one of the half hour portrait sessions, which will run throughout the day. Each Fundraising Friday will have a theme; we’ve got plenty of ideas from Disney princesses to pet portraits, so we’ll work with each month’s charity to find a theme that suits their cause.

How much will the charity receive?

100% of the fee from each session is donated to that month’s charity, along with 25% of any subsequent print or canvas sales and 50% of any digital image sales. So, with an average mini session fee of £40, if we can get 10 sessions booked through the day that gives a total of £400 before we even start on any subsequent, add-on sales.

What will the charity have to do?

What's really important is that the charity helps us to promote the mini sessions to their supporters. Otherwise, the mini sessions might not be booked up: our own followers on social media are highly engaged but aren't always interested in supporting a particular charity. So to get the sessions booked, it's imperative that the charity uses their own contacts, social media and email list to get the word out.

Apart from that, the charity can be as involved as they want to be. We can discuss themes, but there's no other major tasks apart from getting the message out to the charity's supporters.

How does a charity enter?

Any registered charity can apply to take part in Fundraising Fridays, apart from political charities. We are also happy to consider good causes who are currently carrying out crowdfunding. Applicants will be picked from our competition trilby at random and unsuccessful entrants can opt to be included in the draws in future months. Simply complete the form below and we'll enter you into the next draw(s).

Apply for Fundraising Fridays here

Your name *
Your name
Tick this box to be entered into future draws if you're not successful this time

 

 

Introducing your personalised mobile phone app!

Keep your photos at your fingertips with a digital photo album that you can show off to friends and family.

Your personalised app contains all the finished images from your wedding or portrait session, easily downloaded onto your smartphone. It's completely free if you:

If you have an iPhone, please note that an iPhone 5 or higher is required for the app to work.

Happy sharing!

What to wear at a photoshoot

Thanks to our spacious dressing room...

...everyone who comes to our photography studio in Llandudno has the opportunity for plenty of outfit changes. But how do you choose what to wear? And how do you co-ordinate your family?

It all depends on the look you want to create. For instance, for a relaxed, informal feel then nothing beats jeans. But if you have a special outfit to show off, that’s great too. The main thing is to look like you!

It's best not to wear plain white clothes, as we often use a contemporary white backdrop and anyone in white will merge into the background. If there’s going to be more than one person in your portrait, it’s always best if everyone wears clothing that somehow links together. This link can be a similar colour or a similar style.

Rather than making everyone wear the same colour, which can be tricky, pick a colour palette that reflects what most people have in their wardrobes.

For instance:

In the example above, jeans and a mix of very light-coloured tops look modern and co-ordinated, without all the ladies resorting to the exact same colour.

For the portrait below, the daughters are all wearing delicate shades of pink and grey to co-ordinate with their Mum's top:

Then it's back to the dressing room, where the young girls from the first example above changed into black-and-white outfits for a more formal look:

If you love bold colours, why not try autumnal hues like the family below?

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Or there's always bright florals, as modelled by the girls in this image:

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The main rule of thumb? It's simply to make sure that everyone tones together: brights with brights or pastels with pastels. For more advice on what to wear or which accessories to bring to your photoshoot, feel free to get in touch with us via our Contact page or on 01492 339 681. And if you book a photoshoot with us, you'll get our free guide to preparing for a photoshoot.

Introducing our portrait photography gift packages

We’ve had photos for Christmas from a photoshoot my daughter had done of ourselves and our grandson, they are lovely, would recommend North Shore.
— Denise, Deganwy

If you're booking one of our portrait photography packages as a present, you can make it extra-special with our gift certificates. We'll send you our smart gift box, complete with ribbon, so that you have something special to hand to the recipient.

Within the box, there's the gift certificate itself, plus information about the package, details of how to make an appointment and our contact details in case there's any questions.

You can see the gift box and its contents in the picture above.

Please note that gift certificates expire one year after purchase. Refunds are available for 30 days after your purchase. Feel free to transfer your certificate to someone else if you'd like to.

Build your portrait collection with our Refer a Friend scheme

As a small business, word-of-mouth is one of the best ways we have to ensure our studio thrives. And because it also gives our clients a special reward, we've created our Refer a Friend scheme for all our portrait customers.

What it is

Our Refer a Friend scheme gives you a free framed print every time a friend or relative buys a Silver or Gold photoshoot. It's a great way to add to your print collection!

For you: A framed 8x10 inch print of any of the pictures we've taken for you, worth £89, or an extra digital image, worth £75.

For your friend: An extra digital image of their choice from their portrait session, worth £75.

Feel free to refer not only your friends, but colleagues and relatives too.

How it works

  1. Ask your friend to mention your name when they book their session with us, or when they arrive at the studio.
  2. Once your friend has completed their viewing session and made all outstanding payments, we'll get in touch with you to ask you which print or digital image you'd like. You can visit the studio to choose your image, or we'll email you a low-resolution proof. Then your extra artwork will be on its way to you!
  3. Your friend will be able to choose their free image at their viewing session.
  4. You can build a collection by referring as many friends as you like.

Thank you for your business

We really do appreciate it and we hope to see you again in the future!

Jane & Geoff

Frequently asked questions

Wedding FAQs

Which parts of our wedding will you photograph?

It's your choice! Instead of cheesy pose after cheesy pose, we have a relaxed, reportage style of photography. Then we throw in a few natural poses, if you wish, mostly because it's nice to have a small selection of slightly more formal images - and parents tend to like them! But we will make sure we capture everything you want us to, whether it's the ceremony or the socialising or decor details or getting ready or formal family poses.

Together, we create a list at your consultation, based on the number of hours you've asked for, and we'll make sure we work through it during the big day.

How long is your all day package?

This particular package starts with the bride getting ready (and the groom if you wish) and ends with your first dance.

How will you operate on the day?

Our relaxed style of photography means that we mostly blend into the background, capturing the spirit of your wedding without getting in the way. We'll spend time with you to get some special shots, but the amount of time we spend on the more formal poses is entirely up to you. We certainly won't frogmarch you around for hours!

Whatever package you choose, both Jane and Geoff will come to the wedding as having the two of us there makes extra sure that we capture everything and enables us to use extra equipment if needed. Plus we both love a good wedding and wouldn't be left back at the studio, no matter what!

We guarantee to arrive in plenty of time, we get on well with everyone and we make sure we dress in a neutral way so as to complement the look you've created.

How many images will I get?

That depends on how long you commission us for and your tolerance for being photographed. We don't present you with absolutely everything, because let's face it, most brides only want to see the flattering images of themselves, not the ones where their face went all a-wonk. (Guests are not so lucky; we're always on the look-out for comedy images, such as dads being daft and toddlers cutely misbehaving.)

Instead, we sort through the images and choose the best, most interesting images plus things (such as daft dads) that encapsulate your day.

How long will I have to wait for my images?

Not long! To make sure that we always provide great customer service, we only shoot a limited number of weddings each month. So we have an industry-leading turnaround time of 3-4 weeks, meaning that you won't have to wait months to see your pictures. Which is fab.

How will I receive my images?

We have a lovely viewing room at our studio in Llandudno, where your images are presented to you on our large screen HD TV, alongside a glass or two of fizz. Friends and family are welcome to come along.

You then receive your images in full resolution J-peg format, ready to share and print, on a special USB stick in a smart box.

If you live elsewhere and can't get to Llandudno, we'll upload your images to an online gallery, from which you can view and download all the pictures.

What about albums and wall art?

Our wall art is heirloom-quality, and we have a good choice of framed prints and canvases, plus some stunning aluminium wall panels. If you'd like to order anything from us, we can chat through this at your viewing and choose the best images and formats. See our price list here.

You can also capture your day with our beautiful albums You can choose from a range of contemporary and classic covers, along with a choice of sizes and duplicate album bundles. See our price list here.

What does the second photographer do?

The second photographer if you have one, usually Jane, is in charge of capturing extra angles and moments, given that even the best photographer in the world can't be everywhere all at once. This second pair of hands is also an opportunity to use extra equipment, to make sure you look your best.

What happens if you suddenly can't make the wedding?

We'll get to your wedding come hell or high water. Not letting anyone down is in our DNA. But obviously life can have other plans! We have two fully trained, experienced photographers in the business, which minimises risk, plus we have a network of other photographers who can take over if necessary.

Do I have to feed you?

Nope, you've probably spent enough money on feeding your wedding party already! If you commission us for four hours or longer, we take turns to take a short break for a healthy snack that we've brought from home, just to get out and about for a bit and refresh our brain cells. The one of us who’s not on a break stays near the wedding to make sure that we capture anything unexpected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait FAQs

What happens at a photoshoot?

We work hard to make sure that every photoshoot is a relaxed and fun experience. First, if you're having your photoshoot at our studio, we'll make some tea or coffee, then chat through the kind of images you'd like.

You can get changed in our dressing room, if you wish, then we'll go through to the studio. Geoff will take the photographs and Jane will make sure that outfits are perfect and kids are happy.

A photoshoot can be quick (twenty minutes) or lengthy (two hours), depending on how happy everyone is at being photographed, and how many people are in the shoot.

Which package is best for a newborn baby photoshoot?

Babies, newborn and older, often need breaks in the session to be fed or changed. For that reason, we recommend our Silver package, which includes two hours of studio time.

When will I see my images?

Post-production editing is important to us. These are images to be passed on through the generations, so we want to make sure they look perfect. We therefore spend a lot of time after the photoshoot removing scuffed knees and cradle cap, whitening teeth or subtly softening facial lines. All this means that the images will be available for your viewing session a week after your photoshoot.

How will I get to see my images?

Our studio in Llandudno has a lovely viewing room, where you get to settle on the sofa and see your images on our large screen, high definition TV. You then get to choose which images you'd like, and if you wish, we can discuss framed artwork and canvases.

If you can't get to the studio, we will upload your images to an online gallery. This enables you to see all your images and download the ones you'd like to keep.

How many images will I get?

That depends entirely on you! We're happy to photograph you for as long as you'd like to be photographed for, within the constraints of the time you've paid for. Then we weed out and discard all the unsuitable images - such as where people's eyes have closed - in post-production.

If you would like to try lots of different outfits, or have lots of combinations of people to be photographed, we often have 30-40 perfected images for you to choose from. But if you want a single family portrait, with no changes, you might end up with 10 or so images to choose from.

How many people can your studio accomodate?

We welcome groups of up to six adults, plus as many kids as you can round up! If you have a larger group, we're happy to come to your house, hotel or favourite outdoor place to photograph you all. Our largest portrait to date is of 35 family members!

Can I bring friends and family to be photographed with me?

Absolutely! We're happy to photograph everyone in any combination you wish as part of your photoshoot, such as parent-child groups, groups of kids and people on their own.

Can I bring my pet?

Yes, well-behaved animals are very welcome. Make sure you sign up for our email newsletter at the bottom of this page, as we like to do mini portrait sessions on behalf of animal charities.

What's the benefit of using the studio?

Our favourite thing about our studio is the spacious dressing room, which means that you can change outfits from, say, a casual look to a more formal one.

There's also access to our props, the soft, flattering lighting in our studio and, of course, a supply of tea, coffee, soft drinks and biscuits!

What props do you have?

In addition to a Christmas set, a Frozen set and a football stadium set, we have contemporary white and grey backgrounds. Then there's a vintage white brick background for an urban vibe, and a gold backdrop for added sparkle. We also use the floor length curtains in our dressing room for romantic maternity poses.

Babies are kept comfy on our specialist baby posing beanbag, and in our hand-woven willow basket. We don't believe in elaborate baby props; instead we keep our babies natural with a selection of cosy blankets, cute hats and pretty headbands in cream, pink and chocolate. Of course, baby's own blanket or favourite toy can be incoporated into the photoshoot too.

Kids are happiest with their own toys, musical instruments or hobbies, though they do love playing with our bubbles, while tweens go for our ornate picture frames and sparkly feather masks.

Just let us know before your photoshoot if there's anything specific you'd like to use.

Do you go on location?

Yes, and travel is free within 10 miles of our Llandudno studio (45p per mile after that). We love going on location, and so are happy to visit your home, hotel or favourite outdoor spot.

Do you sell gift certificates?

Yes, and they're presented in a smart ribboned box so you have something to hand to the recipient. Click here to buy one.

There's also more information on our gift packages here.

Can I print out my images?

Absolutely. All our digital images are print-ready and are extremely high resolution, so you can print them to a very large size. Home printers aren't always the best quality, but if you don't want to buy artwork from us, retailers such as Boots and online printers such as Photobox are good options.

What type of prints do you supply?

Our wall art is heirloom-quality and is available in a good range of sizes and hand-crafted frames. We also provide top quality canvases and unusual items such as aluminium wall art. Because we strive for the perfect quality, we don't offer unframed or tiny (e.g. postcard size) prints. You can see our wall art price list here.

Is your studio accessible to disabled people?

We're on the first floor, up a flight of 14 stairs, so unfortunately we have limited accessibility. We're happy to come to you, though, or your favourite outdoor place.

How to survive having your portrait taken for work

Oh no. You have to have your portrait taken for a new website. Or the annual report. Or the staff handbook. More and more, we're finding that businesses are using their staff as the face of the company online or in print. Many of us don't like having our photograph taken, but we can still make the most of it when it happens. As a corporate photography business we take a lot of staff portraits, so here's our hints and tips for coming out of the session looking your best.

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Getting ready

For many of our female photographic subjects, the first instinct is to rush off and get hair and make-up done professionally. Great idea, just keep your stylist on a tight rein. A mass of bridal ringlets for a corporate shoot ends up looking somehow not quite right. We'd also recommend keeping your make-up to a similar intensity to your everyday look.

An issue for spectacles wearers is that a photographer's lights can bounce off your glasses and obscure your eyes. If you're one of those people who switches between glasses and contact lenses, try to wear your lenses for the photoshoot. But if you always wear your glasses, don't take them off as you'll end up not looking like you. We'll airbrush out the worst of the reflections instead.

If you're having your portrait taken with a group, consider asking everyone to wear clothes from a similar colour palette. The results can look great. And try to get everyone to wear simple, non-fussy styles and patterns too, as this will make you all look more co-ordinated.

Posture perfect

Some photographers take corporate shots by asking everyone to fold their arms. Don't hire a photographer who habitually does this, as it often looks awkward and defensive. When you're talking to a person in real life, how do you feel if they cross their arms in front of you? Exactly. (Caveat: we've done one crossed-arms photoshoot, because the client required it for a very specific reason. But we don't do it as standard.)

So what do you do with those pesky arms? Here are some ideas for how to pose more naturally...

And relax...

Posing in a realistic manner always creates a better, more relaxed portrait. These are some of the ideas our photographer brings with him to a photoshoot:

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Get back to work

Photographing people actually doing their job helps them relax and makes them less self-conscious. We get bartenders to make cocktails, bakers to knead loaves and office staff to answer the phone.

Take a pew

Sit people on a chair and their arms automatically fall into place, making posing easier. Our photographer asks most of his subjects to sit down; he has to crouch but the experience for the subject is far better.

Hold on

Giving people something to hold gives them something to do with their hands. If the prop is something they use for their job, it reinforces their professional credentials too.

Eyes down

Looking at an iPad, folder or brochure helps people enormously when they feel too awkward to look at the camera. We often use props for people who just can't face having their picture taken.

To see examples of portraits by our photographer, Geoff Steen, take a look at our gallery.

Thanks for reading!

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

16 things to ask your photographer to include in a photoshoot: A guide for hotels and guest houses

Whether you’ve hired a professional photographer or are taking photographs yourself, you want to get the most from your time and money.  So, based on all the photoshoots we’ve conducted, here are some ideas for you to get comprehensive a coverage of your premises.

Photographing bedrooms

It’s always a good idea to include a standard shot of the whole room (or as much as can be squeezed in).  After all, people like to know what they’re getting for their money, whether they’re making a booking online or browsing a brochure.  But you can create a real sense of atmosphere and cosiness by taking photographs which focus on:

  • The head of the bed, focusing on fluffy pillows and comfy cushions.  Make the bed look like something that you just want to dive into!
  • A seating area (if you have one) so that potential customers can imagine themselves relaxing in their room.
  • The view from the window, if it’s appealing, preferably framed by the curtains or window frame so that  it’s obvious that the view belongs to that particular room.
  • Any attractive architectural or decorative details: don’t underestimate the potential glamour of elaborate light fittings, or the cosiness of an warm bedside lamp (switched on of course!).

Photographing restaurants, dining rooms, bar areas and receptions

The guidelines for public rooms are similar to those for bedrooms, not forgetting an expansive room shot and any architectural features.  Again, details can add atmosphere:

  • Pick your most attractive seating area and create a close-up vignette.  This enables potential customers to imagine themselves whiling away the evening on your plump      sofas and comfortable chairs.
  • If you have attractive table arrangements in your restaurant or dining room, make a feature of them by photographing them close-up.  Winking lights on wine glasses or a   pleasing breakfast setting can be very evocative.
  • A dinner menu can look appealing, resting casually on a dining table.  Photograph the cover or the open pages.  Food photography is a specialist skill, so we wouldn’t recommend including hot food unless you or the photographer have the expertise.
  • Do you serve homemade jam at breakfast or make your own bread?  There couldn’t be anything nicer, so create some close-ups of your preserve pots and a cut loaf of bread.
  • Sell an evening in your bar with pictures of your cocktails, wine cellar or an ice bucket of champagne.  Top tip: you can create an acceptable glass of fizz, without opening the bottle, by using soda water and a drop or two of Angostura bitters.

Photographing exteriors

Remember, sunshine and blue skies can make all the difference!  As well as a conventional shot of the exterior of the building (try to take it when there’s no cars parked outside), take a look at what else is around:

  • Is there a seating area, an arbour or bench?  Photographing this closer up will enable customers to imagine sitting in the sunshine, or enjoying an alfresco glass of wine      in the evening.
  • Do you have an attractive tree that you can use to frame a shot of the garden?
  • Are your pots or hanging baskets particularly spectacular?  Or do you have a host of daffodils each spring?  An image of these will look attractive on your website or in a brochure.
  • Try taking a shot of your most attractive facade while you’re standing at its base.  Shooting upwards at a steep angle can look both professional and a little bit funky.
  • Don’t forget the view from your property, if the vista from the back garden, the veranda or the street is an appealing one.
  • Try taking a photograph through a window to capture a cosy night-time view of your bar, dining room or lounge.
  • If you’re located on a farm, don’t forget to include some animal models!

We hope that this has given you some ideas for your photoshoot.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 07925 679724 or hello@northshoreonline.net if we can help in any way.

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages

Posted by: Jane

Image via www.freedigitalphotos.net 

 

How four North Wales organisations use images to create a premium brand

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Enochs Fish & Chips

Courtesy of View Creative, Enochs fish and chip shop in Llandudno Junction already has a head-start with its very strong branding.  And the company’s quirky, salty-old-seadog brand is reflected throughout its website.  A stylised image of a fisherman reflects provenance, while a background image of Penmon Lighthouse and Puffin Island anchors the company firmly in North Wales.  An old-fashioned submarine adds quirkiness, while blackboards and weathered wood create a handmade feel.  The images all tie together to create a local, crafted brand with provenance, everything a premium chippy needs.

Things to think about: Is ‘local’ important to your business?  Can you add local touches to the images you use on your website? Or are your products hand-crafted?  Can your designer use visual cues such as natural materials and artisan touches to reinforce this?

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Drew Pritchard

Architectural antiques dealer Drew Pritchard has a stunning website that's all about images. The simple design showcases the company's products and at the same time creates a sophisticated and contemporary feel.  The image on the seasonal page does a great job in highlighting the latest finds, while the photography on the product pages uses a simple background painted in on-trend colours.  The overall effect is to make the company's products the heroes of the website.  We also love the little dog icon, which makes the design friendly and not too bare.

Things to think about: Do you have amazing products?  If so, these can showcase your business beautifully if they're photographed in the right way.  

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Llandudno Arts Weekend

Arguably the main visual focus of LLAWN01, the inaugral Llandudno Arts Weekend, are the time travellers, a Victorian couple who got lost in the 1970s and ended up with disco balls for heads. Loved by adults and children alike, the time travellers became LLAWN01's brand icons and were replicated on posters and programmes.  In addition to reinforcing the time travellers as an instantly recogmisable emblem, the designers also used a strong pink in all marketing materials, creating a contemporary and eye-catching identity.  Finally, the website uses simple, spare images of the festival's performers to communicate the contemporary nature of the Weekend.  This is enhanced by the fashionable muted tone of the photographs.

Things to think about: Do you have a strong icon that can be used to help build a brand?  Can that icon be replicated on your website and across all your marketing materials?

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Seld

In addition to running one of the coolest guest houses we've ever stayed in, Seld's owners also have a gorgeous online shop.  Running through the website is a Welsh blanket motif, which reflects the local provenance of the merchandise.  What's crucial, though, is that the motif has a spare design to create a contemporary look.  Products are photographed against simple, modern backgrounds, and all the company's marketing materials have a strong but muted colour palette.

Things to think about: Your products may be traditional, but can you appeal to the tastes of today's buyers by presenting them in a modern way?

We hope that this has given you some ideas for developing your imagery.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 07925 679724 or by email if we can help in any way.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

How to use festive images to drive more sales

The Christmas period is a crucial time for almost all consumer-facing businesses. Everything needs to work as hard as it can to attract customers, so the images you use can play an important part in boosting festive sales.

Here are some ideas...

Add Christmas to an Autumn/Winter photoshoot

Boden shot this image for the Autumn/Winter season, but the inclusion of the reindeer immediately makes the shot festive enough, despite the lack of snow, to be December's hero image on the home page of the Boden website. It evokes Boxing Day family walks, for which of course you need a Boden jumper or five (and yellow trousers, apparently). For your next photoshoot, can you add festive accessories (not necessarily reindeer-sized) so that you can create a Christmassy image to use later in the year?

Make Christmas gift guides Christmassy

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The Biscuiteers create beautiful tins of handmade biscuits targeted at the gifting market. For their online Christmas gift guide, they've used snowy images instead of standard product shots to create a festive feel. This helps the browser visualise the tin in a present-giving context. While having every product photographed in festive style will probably be too onerous, try adding Christmas styling to a hero product, like the Biscuiteers have done above.

Decorate your website as well as your premises

Oddfellows is a boutique, 5-star hotel and restaurant in Chester. For Christmas they've prepared in advance, taken photographs of their Christmas decorations and made the images the centrepiece of their website. There's even snow falling gently across the screen. The hotel looks so festive, who wouldn't want to have their Christmas Do there?! If you've the resources, try adding Christmas decorations to your website, perhaps to your logo, your background or your main images. And if you run a Wordpress website, there are plenty of plugins to mimic snowfall.

Give your blog a festive theme

Waitrose have gathered all the Christmas content together on their website in a dedicated place. If your blog has Christmas craft ideas, recipes, tips or anything else festive, consider using a graphic on your home page, like the one above, to lead browsers to a special Christmas area. The more that potential consumers are exposed to your festive content, the greater the opportunity for sharing on social media and building your brand as a destination for Christmas ideas and - ultimately - Christmas shopping.

For more information on how we can help your business look great this Christmas, take a look at the different types of commercial photography we carry out, or browse our portfolio.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors, products and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Photography and marketing lessons from 5 festive food ads

It's that time of year again, and of course every business owner wants to leverage the excitement surrounding Christmas. But how can you effectively add festive cheer to your brand? To kick us off and provide some ideas for Christmas 2014, here are five adverts from last Christmas's Observer Food Monthly magazine. It'll be interesting to see what strategy each company adopts this year.

1. Supermarket turkey: Exhibit A

A very elegant ad from Sainsbury's, beautifully styled and photographed.  Which is what you'd expect.

But what's also clever is how they've added emotion to the ad with "I love that moment..." and the images of kids. It's expressly designed to resonate with the audience's Christmas memories, in an attempt to link the brand to the ideal of a happy, family Christmas.

Things to think about: How does your target audience feel about Christmas? Can you express that in your marketing, so that it becomes about emotions and not just, "here's another festive product"?  Can you show pictures of people, like Sainsbury's does, and not just your product? And of course, this approach can work throughout the year; emotions occur year-round in all kinds of situations.

2. Supermarket turkey: Exhibit B

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Named farmer? Tick. Named breed of bird? Tick. “Happy” turkey? Tick. Lovely photography? Tick. A brand that encompasses all these foodie credentials? Oh.

All credit to Tesco for working to improve the image of its Finest range. But it's still Tesco, so how credible can an ad based entirely on food credentials be? Potentially, Tesco would have been far better off leaving this kind of mesage of M&S or Waitrose, and focusing on happiness like Sainsbury's does. Last year, Tesco's Christmas TV advertising was all about happy family times, so it's odd that the strategy was completely abandoned for the Finest range. After all, upmarket shoppers have families too.

Things to think about: Can your competitors do the thing that you're talking about better than you can? If so, it may be time to think of something different. And are your communications consistent? The audience reading the Observer may require a more upmarket execution than the audience reading the Sun, but try to find a common theme that links them, just like Sainsbury's does with the idea of family.

3. Ribena loses all semblance of reality

This is possibly the most bizarre advert I've seen for ages.  Is there a single household in the UK who would consider a Ribena bottle to be an appropriate centrepiece for their Christmas table? Possibly it's tongue-in-cheek, but I honestly can't see how the cute little berries balance out such a big fib of a headline.

Things to think about: Always be sure that your marketing is rooted in truth, and that your target audience will believe what you say. Otherwise, the results can be baffling.

4. Crabbies finds the middle ground

OK, so it's a bit boring. but this ad for Crabbies is jolly, festive and bright. And, unlike Ribena, it doesn't make outlandish claims.

While some thought obviously went into the Ribena ad, the concept behind this Crabbies ad was probably developed in about five minutes. But it's suitably festive and will potentially raise awareness of the brand. Shame there's no cranberry variant though, to really tie the brand to Christmastime.

Things to think about: Can you do a Christmas version of your product? It's something you can then communicate across the selling season. And one of my clients uses their limited editions as competition prizes in social media campaigns.


5. Lurpak goes premium

Lurpak have been building their food credentials for a while now. While there are more premium butters, Lurpak is arguably a brand of sufficient quality to act as a base for building these kind of credentials.

This ad is a continuation of other campaigns that they ran throughout the year. This kind of continuity helps to build a brand, but what's clever here is that the message has been tweaked to make it about Christmas. Without going mad with baubles, Lurpak have very elegantly inserted a subtle Christmas message. There's plenty of emotion there too, cleverly intertwined with the foodie theme. The only potential downside is that the ad requires you to stop and read it, and it doesn't leap off the page like the Crabbie's one. Perhaps a subtle piece of Christmas styling would help to make the ad slightly more Christmassy.

Things to think about: Is your brand a premium one? Can it be linked to an upmarket idea of Christmas that's about enjoyment rather than tinsel? And how can you communicate Christmassy-ness in a subtle, sophisticated way?

For more information on how we can help your business look great this Christmas, take a look at the different types of commercial photography we carry out, or browse our portfolio.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors, products and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Photography in Llangollen: Ideas for your own photoshoot

Earlier this month we carried out a photoshoot at the newly refurbished Mulberry Inn, near Llangollen in North Wales. Now that the project is finished, we thought we'd share a few of the ideas our photographer, Geoff Steen, used to create the Inn's portfolio of images. Perhaps you could ask your photographer to add some of these ideas to his or her shoot list.

Don't forget the details

The Mulberry Inn has lovely big bedrooms, but it also has a lot of quirky decor details and luxury touches. So Geoff took two approaches. Firstly, he took big shots of the rooms to emphasize their spaciousness and luxurious design:

Then he created a whole range of close-ups to show luxury amenities, quirky details and vintage one-off pieces. Notice how the ducks have been specially placed in a row to add more personality to the image:

Focus on the things that will attract your customers

Since the Mulberry is an inn, the bar area will be an important part of the customer's decision-making process when deciding whether or not to stay there. Geoff therefore spent a lot of time in the bar to create a portfolio of attractive images. He focused particularly on the things that will attract the Mulberry's target customer, such as the inn's cosy yet contemporary decor:

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And the inn's selection of real ales:

Highlight what makes you special

One of the lovely things about the Mulberry Inn is its extensive gardens. Geoff's aim when photographing the gardens was to enable people viewing the inn's website to imagine sitting out there on a sunny day:

And the Inn's beautiful rural location was emphasised by a series of bucolic images of the surrounding hills and fields:

For more information on how we can help with your project, take a look at the different types of commercial photography we carry out, or browse our portfolio.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors, products and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Photography on Anglesey: Ideas for your own photoshoot

Last month we conducted a photoshoot on Anglesey for Faun Trackway, a manufacturer of aluminum engineering products. Now that the project is complete, we thought we'd share a few of the ideas our photographer, Geoff Steen, used to make the photoshoot a successful one. Take a look and see if you could ask your own photographer to do something similar.

Smile please!

The staff at Faun Trackway are a lovely bunch, but like most people, they're not particularly keen on having their picture taken...

But see how everyone looks so cheery when Geoff asks them to wave...

Use details to add personality

Every organisation has something that makes them stand out from the crowd. In the case of this photoshoot, highlighting the Welsh names on these demonstrator models conveys something unique about the company.

Brighten up the day

As photographers in the UK, we're often faced with a situation where the weather isn't quite what it should be...

But there's always the opportunity for your photographer to add a blue sky in post-production, just like we've done here...

The new sky lifts the image without looking fake, while the clouds lend a subtle note of interest to the top of the building. It's worth finding out whether or not your photographer can do something similar, and how much it will cost. In our case, we tidy up images free-of-charge - in the grey sky image we spruced up the company's sign and tidied up the tarmac - but gave the client an additional, up-front quote for the more labour-intensive task of changing the sky.

For more information on how we can help with your project, take a look at the different types of commercial photography we carry out, or browse our portfolio.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors, products and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Tips to stop you wasting money with Google Adwords

Are you using Google Adwords but finding it's expensive and not providing a good enough return? Our photography business has been using Google Adwords for around four years, but it took quite a bit of experimentation and testing to find the right combination of settings for our business. Now, Google Adwords is profitable for us, generating a flow of leads, and directly resulting in commissions from our commercial photography clients. So I thought I'd share our learnings with you, in the hope that you'll save some of the time, testing and money that we've gone through.

We'll assume that you've already limited your expenditure by setting your bid (the maximum amount you're willing to pay per click) and budget. To find out how to do this, click here. Once you've prevented Adwords from running wild, the next thing to turn your attention to is negative keywords. 

The power of negative keywords

You'll have set keywords, the search terms for which you'd like your advert to appear, when you started your Adwords campaign. But in my marketing consultancy, I've come across many clients who haven't added negative keywords. Using negative keywords, the search terms you DON'T want your advert to appear for, can strip large amounts of wasted expenditure from your campaign. But they're not a part of the default Adwords set-up, so it's not surprising that so many clients omit this crucial stage.

Have a think about what people might search for that you don't sell. And also what would waste your budget if they clicked on your advert. So, to take the example of our photography business, we specialise in commercial photography and therefore don't want our ads to appear for searches such as wedding photography, portrait photographers or pet photography.  Even though our ads make it clear that we offer photography for businesses, you can never stop stray mouse clicks for even the most irrelevant search terms. So make sure that, for those terms, your ads don't appear at all.

Depending on your business, you may also need to make sure that your adverts don't appear for:

  • Searches about how to DIY e.g. how to take photographs
  • Searches about deals, offers and freebies e.g. cheap photographer
  • Searches about learning and education e.g. photographers courses
  • Searches for jobs e.g. photography jobs manchester
  • Searches for research purposes e.g. photography case studies
  • Searches for competitors (unless you think you can pinch potential clients or customers from them).

To get a comprehensive set of negative keywords without starting from scratch, take a look at this negative keyword list, which can be pasted into Adwords. Yes, it's a long list, but that's the nature of negative keyword lists; our photography list currently stands at 347 keywords. Be careful to sort through it, however, as you might want to appear for some of the words, depending on your business. Then add the negative keywords to your Adwords account (click here for instructions). Make sure that you add plurals e.g. wedding photographer and wedding photographers.

If you're ready to get more complicated, you can make your negative keywords broad, exact or phrase match. This helps to ensure that you don't screen out a search term that you'd actually like to appear for. Google provides a comprehensive explanation of this stage here. But it's a confusing area, so don't worry if it's all too much at the moment: add your negative keywords without specifying broad, exact or phrase (they'll default to broad match), and you'll still have taken a major step forward.

Also make sure that you regularly check the search terms that lead to clicks on your advert. You'll find this information in the Keywords tab; follow these instructions and you'll be taken to a list of the search terms people have entered before clicking on your ad. You then have the option to add any dodgy ones you've not thought of as a negative keyword.  I do this once a week for my clients.

Hone down your location

If you sell just in a local area, it makes sense to restrict your adverts so that only people in your location see them. You can do this by country or by city, although take care as Google doesn't seem to be very good at understanding UK regions. So, for instance, if you have a wedding dress shop in Chester, you're probably not going to want your advert for the term Vera Wang Lara wedding dress to be clicked on by brides in London.

Find out how to implement location targeting here. But have a really good think first about where your customers come from. In our photography business, the only geographical restriction for our ads is that searchers must be in the UK, because, although we're based in Manchester and North Wales, we have national clients who are based all over the country. We'd miss out if we restricted our adverts to people located just in Manchester, Chester, Liverpool and so on.

Pass the time of day

Depending on your settings, Google will allow you to determine the time of day and day of the week when your advert will appear. The benefit of this is particularly strong if you're a business-to-business advertiser, as you can make sure that your ad doesn't appear outside working hours. Our adverts are restricted to Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, to eradicate stray clicks from people researching consumer-focused matters such as pet dog photography, results from the anglesey racing circuit and starlight photography; all irrelevant clicks that we've paid for in the past!

Find out more here.

Testing, testing

A/B testing is when you keep almost all elements of an advert the same, and change just one thing. This enables you to compare the results of the two ads and then optimise your campaign based on those results. 

Potential areas to test include:

  • Alternative headlines
  • Alternative ad copy (while remembering to change just one thing, of course)
  • Alternative landing pages.

The Certified Knowledge blog has a great article on how to get started with A/B testing.

But how does this reduce wasted expenditure? Well, A/B testing helps to perfect your adverts, so that every click on your ad has the maximum chance of leading to a conversion.

Perfect pricing

Have you considered adding a price to your advert? This not only attracts people's attention, but also helps to screen out people who can't afford your product or service. After A/B testing, we found that adding the starting price for our photography services leads to better ROI, because it deters people who think that professional photography should cost tuppence ha'penny.

Adding a price to your advert can be done tastefully or it can be done, well, let's say, less so. It all depends on your target audience!

I hope that these ideas help you get the most from your Adwords budget. For ongoing help with managing your Adwords campaigns, take a look at my Rent a Marketing Manager scheme. Thanks for reading!

Posted by: Jane

Image via Free Digital Photos.

Why is photography so expensive?

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Short answer: "it's not".

"But", says the recession-ridden client, "we were charged hundreds of £s to get a photographer at the office. And thousands for our wedding!".

You'd be quite right. It is a lot of money. But let's do some sums...

We can't speak for wedding photographers, as we specialise in commercial photography for businesses. We are completely open about our fees, which include all post-production editing, image hand-over and storage. But, on more than one occasion recently, we've seen other commercial photographers charging around £100 for a photoshoot, which undercuts us considerably.

So how much work does that photographer's £100 entail? We can't speak for him or her, but our photoshoots almost always last a couple of hours and often considerably more. Let's assume a three hour photoshoot for that £100. That's £33 an hour. Not bad.

But then there's sorting the images and editing them. We estimate that we spend at least double the length of the photoshoot in post-production. So that's six hours on top of the three hours of the shoot. That's £11 an hour. Not so great.

Don't forget the hour (often more) spent writing a quote, liaising with the client, preparing and checking equipment and so on. We're now on ten hours of work for £10 an hour.

And then there's overheads. Cameras, lenses and a myriad of other technical bits and bobs, advertising, website hosting, networking fees, accountant, computers...Presumably the £100 photographer keeps his or her overheads low, so let's assume that 20% of turnover goes on costs. So that's £80 divided by ten hours or £8 an hour. Before tax.

So, £8 an hour for a highly skilled, professional and responsible job. £8 an hour as a reward for the risk of running your own business. At the time of writing, even the minimum wage is £6.31 an hour. Unless the £100 photographer has just started out and is portfolio-building, it just doesn't make commercial sense.

And from the client's point of view, well, you get what you pay for.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Image via Free Digital Photos.

5 interesting pictures from 1913

1913 was a year of tumultuous change, as much of the world perched on the cusp between old and new. While it's nearly Christmas and time to reflect on the past, we thought we'd take a pictorial look at what was happening a hundred years ago.

The world goes tango crazy

Tango fever swept Europe in 1913.  The Wardorf Hotel began tango teas, following the lead of grand hotels in Paris, and Selfridges held a tango ball. The dance wasn't considered altogether 'proper': it's claimed that women in Paris abandoned their corsets to be able to perform the dance properly; and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany banned his officers from dancing the tango while in uniform.

The beautiful 1913 print above is on sale here.

A premature celebration in Russia

The grand image above (click here for the source) shows the height of celebrations in Moscow to mark 300 years of the Romanov dynasty coming to the Russian throne. Just three years later, in 1917, the family were deposed during the Russian Revolution.

Phew! Wot a scorcher!

1913 saw a prolonged heatwave in the UK, as these gents, photographed on a park bench in July of that year, can testify.  The heatwave sparked legends about the glorious end of the Edwardian era, before World War I swept much of the past away.

The Suffragette Summer Festival

This image, from the Woman and Her Sphere blog, shows Suffragettes advertising their Summer Festival, which was held in London on 3 June 1913.  The event was attended by Emily Davison who, just a day later, threw herself under the King's horse at the Epsom Derby.

A contentious launch

May 1913 saw the debut in Paris of The Rite of Spring, a ballet by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.  The image above shows the production design for the new performance. The music and dancing were perceived to be so bizarre and cacophonous that the audience begun to riot. Read more on Wikipedia.