I’ve just published a new Instagram account for my fashion photography, videography and directing, and would like to share a few of the techniques and styles I used to make it stand out from the usual post-by-post format that most of us are familiar with.

I am a wedding photographer and a fashion photographer, and one usually complements the other. My wedding couples like the fashion influence in my work, and I’ve met some of my best commercial clients at the weddings I’ve been working at. I was full time fashion photograph for a few years before I ever shot my first wedding, but once I started, it was at these events where I really cut my teeth as a photographer. Weddings are hardcore!

On a fashion shoot you can control your environment, the lighting, the timing. You can pause, check, adjust, continue. Not so at weddings. Most of the time, whilst you can plan before hand, you are playing catch up, with no opportunity to stop the proceedings to re shoot something you missed or didn’t get right the first time.

You have to deal with almost every style of light out there; tungsten lit hotels rooms, through the back-lit doorway into the dark church, out into the sunshine, followed by the rain, into the candle lit tent, and then on to the disco lights of the dance floor. To name just a few! Wedding photography really does separate the men from the boys, and the women from the girls.

It’s crazy to think that often people choose to photograph weddings as a hobby, or to subsidise their first choice discipline of travel photography, fashion, portraiture etc. Those who have experienced the pressure and responsibility of capturing these events will know the very idea of dipping in and out, is a best foolhardy. It takes a lot of time, practice, discipline and skill to be a great wedding photographer.

And yet this is not always appreciated in the fashion world. I still encounter a certain attitude when I mention that I photograph weddings.  I do understand it is a very different discipline and needs a unique approach, but I’m not sure that just because you can take a great photograph at a wedding, you should be excluded from another genre of photography. Testino has a few weddings to his name and no one got too upset!

Anyway, this is a very long way round to making the point of this post: I’ve made a separate Instagram account just for my fashion clients. I’ve been producing some stills and video content for Beyonce.com and her clothing brand, Ivy Park. By anyone’s standards Beyonce is at the forefront of fashion culture, and a lot of work goes in to making sure she and her brand stay there. I love shooting fashion and enjoy anything that pushes me, so I have curated an Instagram account for my clients in this domain.

I put aside a day to do this. That was five days ago. As anyone who has tried to update their website gallery or portfolio will know, the struggle is real. It’s just not easy. I’m still not 100% happy with it, but I gave myself until friday night, and promised I’d stop there. So this is how it’s going look for the time being!

It took me a while because there are a few extra shots I wanted to retouch from some of the shoots, I’m new to Gifs, and I wanted to have a play with a few different layouts. I didn’t reinvent the wheel, and I’m sure a few of my methods were a little a-roundabout, but I’ve put down some of the websites, apps, videos and techniques I’ve used, so I hope it’s helpful!

 

1. Gifs. I created a number of gifs by having different elements of a still image on different layers, and then exporting them as individual JPEGS. I then imported these into gifmaker.org to produce the gif, and then ezgif.com to turn the gif into mp4 video files, as IG doesn’t publish gifs directly. I use airdrop to send everything to my phone to upload to IG. I don’t use any editing or filter within IG. Everything is done within PS with the help of Alien Skin Exposure 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Splitting images across multiple posts. Instagram posts are 1080 x 1080 pixels, so I made a template 3240 x 2160 to post single images across multiple posts. I used the guides to show where the separate posts would be divided. I divided one image, or a collage of images, in different ways across the grid, then flattened and cropped the individual 1080 x 1080 JPEGS.

 

 

3.Polaroids and film edges. There are so many way to do this now. Devientart.com is a great place to download templates like polaroid boarders and film and negative edges. I found this video helpful. I also like the free Instants app if you want to do it all on your phone. I played with a masking tape effect brush I downloaded. I didn’t end up using it in the final selection, but it does look great when coupled with the polaroid frame and some paper textures.

 

 

4. Videos. I posted a few of my recent videos straight into IG. You can select the thumbnail image that you would like to be displayed, so they look good as still posts.

 

 

5. Retouch. One of my ambitions this winter is to become better at retouch and my Capture One to PS workflow. I used this contouring technique for these pictures because it’s quick and good enough for IG, but I follow Michael Woloszynowicz and use the dodge and burn technique when I have more time and it’s a commission. I also like Phlearn’s video tutorials.  I added some eyelashes using a brush I downloaded into PS, and one of the Alien Skin Exposure 5 filters.

 

 

6.The Squaready app is super useful for different compositions and boarders of single images within a single post.  I also like using the solid colour backgrounds it offers.

 

7. Social Pear. This can be some what controversial. Social Pear is just one of many companies that offer social media growth for a monthly fee. Their software logs into your account and interacts with similar accounts with like and comments on your behalf. I used this to great effect when starting my girlfriends account from scratch. She averaged about 50 new followers a day whilst working with them, and then was able continue that growth naturally by just posting regularly and using hastags. I haven’t set anything up on my account, as it’s more an online portfolio to point potential clients towards, but social proof is important. We tend to favour the restaurant with the cue outside, than the one next door full of empty tables!
There is absolutely no reason why ( except my list of a million other things I also want to do ) I shouldn’t design my original IG account like this. A bit of style shouldn’t be reserved only for the fashionistas. I want every touch point for my business to be as impressive and effective as possible, and I always use these winter months to perform an overhaul of the website etc. Just not sure it’s a priority right now, but let’s see!
I’ll continue to post accounts of what I’m doing each week, so to receive these articles direct to your inbox, please do sign up to my blog using the pink slider on the left of the screen!
I would love to get your comments on this article or topic in the comments below. If you have any questions, or feel there’s something I missed out, please do ask!

 

 

 

My girlfriend is a big Beyonce fan. So naturally, this makes me one too (insert eye-roll emoticon). We’re also both fans of her sports brand, Ivy Park, so jumped at the chance to put together this video with their latest collection.

We shot over two days in various locations in Mexico City and the small, colonial town of San Miguel de Allende.

The team consisted of myself, Diana and… yeh, just us two. Haha. Which kept us both rather busy, but jokes aside, I always favour on a small production over one with too many cooks.

Everything was filmed on a Canon 5d Mark 3 with either a fixed 50mm f1.2, or a 70-200mm f2.8. All handheld. We recorded the voice over in Garage Band on my laptop using just the built in mic, and edited in Premier Pro.

  • August 11, 2017 - 7:04 pm

    Charley Smith - Hi Anastasia, Sounds great! Thanks of reaching out. I’ll message you now. Best wishes, Charley

  • August 11, 2017 - 1:07 pm

    Anastasia - Hi, Charley!

    My name is Anastasia – I’m a blog editor at Poptop Event Planning Concierge Service (www.poptop.uk.com).

    I’ve recently found your website and was really impressed with the quality of your work! Do you think you could share your professional advice with some of the photographers, who read our blog?

    I’m currently working on an article, dedicated to how event photographers can improve their service at weddings and guarantee stress-free and enjoyable experience both for guests and themselves. I’d be really happy to include your expert opinion on an essential rule to smooth work at private events. Would you be able to send me 3-4 sentences on this topic till Tuesday?

    A few quick facts about our company:
    25 000 people read our blog every month.
    We help more than 10 000 event planners to find their perfect event supplier every month
    More than 5000 event suppliers in our roster

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    Anastasia

In these five ‘MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS’ posts I am sharing the 5 places where almost all of my wedding bookings come from, and tips for how you can make them can work for your business as well.

The last of these 5 is Word of mouth.

Your best source of new business is referrals from happy clients. You cannot have a more motivated prospect arrive on your website than someone sent there by a raving fan.

According to a recent Small Business market Research Sales and Marketing report, 72 percent of new business comes from referrals and word of mouth.

This has certainly been true for my business. While more initial enquires may come from other sources, like Google, referrals by a couple who have already worked with you are by far hottest leads, with the majority converting to bookings.

Some summers, almost all of my weddings are from referrals. I’ll be photographing the wedding of the best friend of a bride from the year before, another member of a family getting married, and so on.

By my 3rd year of photographing weddings I was able to completely stop promotion, marketing or advertising. I just kept my website updated with my latest work and relevant information, then used that time and money instead to improve the service I was offering.

How do you create a business worthy of referral? How do you provide a service that people want to tell others about?
Simple! Create a fantastic service with outstanding results. Haha.

While this is easier said than done, I have two guiding principles that help me in both areas:

1. Do exactly what you say. People never like feeling they’re not receiving the service they signed up for, so I am very clear about what I do and what is included. There’s a number of ways that help achieve this:

  • Standardise the wording in your emails. I don’t want to miss out any important information when replying to the initial enquiry, so I have a standard reply, and a pricing and details PDF that I attach. This includes precise numbers and accurate descriptions of exactly what the client will receive.
  • Really understand what it is you offer. You want to find yourself agreeing to produce something that you may not be able to, and creating an expectation that may not be fulfilled, leading to the client being disappointed.
  • Have the important information and examples of your work on your website. Allow potential clients to get a clear understanding of what you offer before they enquire, so they can decide that you are definitely what they are looking for.
  • Have terms and conditions document. This will clarify everything they can expect of you and avoid complications down the line. You can download mine here.
  • Under promise, over deliver. For example, I will arrive before the time I suggested I would, I will stay longer, hand over more photographs, and edit and send them before expected. I want my client to be impressed with my service, as well as loving their photographs.

2. Take the most amazing wedding photographs the client has ever seen. After more than 10 years photographing weddings, I have a vast portfolio I can choose from for the gallery on my website. Potential clients see this gallery, and this is the calibre of photography they will expect. So this has to be surpassed. So I am going all out at every wedding I take on, to create the most amazing wedding photographs they have ever seen. I say to myself when I start each wedding, but it doesn’t mean that this is easily achieved…

I don’t believe that great photography happens by accident. Well, not for me. I am not the sort of photographer who can just show up, shoot from the hip, and expect it to look world class. My images are created through careful planning. I want to guarantee the success of each and every wedding I photograph without leaving anything to chance. And it’s this technique that I want to demonstrate over the next few posts. I will attempt to deconstruct and explain my approach to photographing weddings, so you may be able to do the same, and become a better and more successful wedding photographer. Stay tuned!

I hope this is helpful!

Next week I will post the first of ‘Planning for Success’. If you would like to receive these articles direct to your inbox, please sign up to my blog on the left of this page.

I would love to get your comments on this article or topic in the comments below. If you have any questions, or feel there’s something I missed out, please do ask!

Ok, so it’s not wedding photography, but there’s a tenuous link…

Every Second Counts is a really exciting sportswear brand based in London. It was founded by Sally Dixon, who I’d met several years early, when she produced an editorial we shot tother for You & Your Wedding Magazine.

I really loved the brand she was creating, and jumped at the chance to produce and direct this film with my girlfriend, Diana Vizcaya, out here in Mexico.

It was amazing to work on the project together. I obviously lack a little objectivity, but Diana is amazing!

 

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