Category Archives: Marketing

Model Video: Amelia Court

Here are a few fun YouTube facts, taken from the YouTube statistics web page:

-More than 1 billion users visit YouTube each month

-Over 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month – that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth

—80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US

—According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network

—YouTube is available on hundreds of millions of mobile devices.

The widespread availability of mobile devices makes consuming video content easy and popular. Video should be an integral part of any business’s marketing plan.

Young ladies and gentlemen wanting to work in the modelling industry would work with professional photographers to produce a book of quality images they would show to potential clients. I believe that video is going to be a necessary component of a model’s portfolio. Leading model management companies, such a Premier Model Management from London, are using video to showcase their modelling talent.

With the increasing demand for video content, there are going to be more and more opportunities for models. And I’m sure the casting directors would like to see how the models look on video beforehand. After all, actors have showreels and the purpose of a model’s portfolio is to show potential clients how the model looks in photographs.

About a month an a fall ago, I teamed up with fellow photographer Hervé Mudry to produce a photography and video package for model Amelia Court.

Hervé took care of the photography aspect and I was behind the video camera. I found it was much easier to split the photography and video duties than try to do both at the same time.

Branding And The Business Portrait

According to Wikipedia, a brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”

It follows from this definition that freelancers are their own brand. The way they act in social situations, respond to email, their physical appearance and their LinkedIn profile picture clearly are features that identify them from their competitors.

This is why I’m always astounded that people who would never dream of going to a business meeting improperly dressed have terrible LinkedIn or website profile pictures. On the one hand they do understand that they are their own brand, yet they don’t seem to grasp that the pictures of themselves they show to the online world are just as important, in terms of the impression they make on people, as their physical appearance at a business networking event.

As an example of branding, a few weeks back, I had the chance of taking some business photographs for my accountant, Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting. Mark is personable, professional, and he is not your stereotypical accountant. He is also interested in attracting start-ups and high-tech businesses as clients. I was looking to create some photographs that would reflect that.

The business portrait is not something you want to get to too creative about. There is some kind of expected standard so I gave Mark a traditional picture against a white background.

Business portrait of Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting against a white background

A traditional business portrait against a white background for Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting. With men, I like to use more directional lighting than I do for business portraits of women

Now since the clients he wants to attract are the young and up-coming entrepreneurs, I thought we could go for some edgier photographs that could appeal to that audience and clearly differentiate Mark from his competition. This is what we came up with:

Portrait of Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting against a black background and holding a 'Scots Law' red book.

Just changing the background to black gives a more dramatic atmosphere to the picture. The drama was accentuated with contrasty lighting.

Portrait of Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting against a black background and holding a red 'Scots Law' book. Two of the lights are coloured red.

Red is Mark’s favourite colour, so I created a slightly different look by putting red coloured gels on the two side lights.



Promote Your Events With Nightclub Photography

Suppose that next weekend, you’d like to go to a different club than the one you frequent regularly. Now you do a little bit of research and there are a couple of venues that grab your attention, and you obviously check their Facebook page.

One of the clubs has a lot of beautiful photographs of their previous events, and the other does not. Which one are you most likely to go to?

Two young ladies at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh with club lights in the background

The key to good nightclub photography is finding the right combination of ambient light and flash. You need to be able to see that the photo was taken in a nightclub. Your customers with their phones or point-and-shoot cameras won’t be able to take pics like the one above. So they’ll have to go to your Facebook page to see the really good photos from the night. This picture was taken at Madisons nightclub, in Musselburgh.

The nightclub industry is going through a tough time. According to the Economist, the value of the industry has fallen from £1.8 billion to £1.4 billion in 2007. But it is during rough times that advertising and promotion is most important. And nowadays, nightclubs have the powerful tool of social media at their disposal.

Two young ladies at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh, in front of the bar

Beautiful young ladies are a must for a good night out. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Since Facebook posts with photos generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than regular posts, it is important for businesses to use imagery in their social media strategy. Good nightclub photography can help you promote and market your club nights.

Three young men having a great time at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh

It’s important to show people having a good time at the party. Showing is way more powerful than telling. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Apart from the increased number of likes and comments to your social media posts, good photographs give potential customers an idea of what your events are like. It is much more effective to show than it is to tell. They can be confident they will have a good time.

Lady and man pointing to the camera with a funny expression on their faces at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh

When people are enjoying themselves, they’ll do some amazing things in front of your camera. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Moreover, good nightclub photographs give you the best possible kind of exposure, in that your customers will do the advertising for you. In my experience, people will quickly look up the Facebook page of the club they went to and look for the pictures. They will like some of the photos, tag themselves and their friends. The pictures of the night will thus appear on their friends’  news feed. If they really like the photograph, they will use it as their new Facebook profile or cover picture, with a status update for all of their friends to see. According to the Guardian, half of the 1.23 billion users have more than 200 friends while the average user has 338 friends.

Young man kissing young lady on the cheek, in front of the bar at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh

Nightclub events are not just about the banter. There can be moments of tenderness as well. I love to catch those. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Your events may get advertised to thousands, potentially, by people they know and like. This is the best kind of referral your business can get. Good nightclub photography gives your venue a lot of exposure, week in and week out. A professional photographer adds value to your events, makes your customers feel special, increasing customers loyalty and adding to your bottom line at the end of the night.

Three young ladies posing for the camera in front  of the club lights at Madisons night club, Musselburgh

You can never get too many pictures of the lovely young ladies at the event. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.


The Advantages Of Video Over Still Photographs

Still shot from music video "The River" from Edinburgh based band Miasma

Still shot from the music video “The River” from Edinburgh based band Miasma.

During the weekend of May 9-11 2014, the British public spent a total of £13,856,641 at the box office, according to the British Film Institute. How much money do you think the same public spent on watching still photographs that same weekend?

The YouTube video “PSY-Gangnam style” has 1,997,326,586 views as of this writing. That’s nearly two billion views! I don’t know how many times the most popular photographs have been looked at, but I’m pretty confident it’s well under two billion times.

It is undeniable that the moving image has a much broader appeal than the still photograph.

In his bestselling book, “Tell to Win”, Peter Guber shows how the hidden power of story can be used to connect with and persuade people. Before the written word, knowledge was transmitted from one generation to the next orally, using the medium of storytelling. We just love stories.

It is definitely possible to tell stories using still photographs, and the best photojournalists do it very well. But it is clear that as a medium, film or video has a definite advantage over still photographs when it comes to telling stories.

The stories that touch us the most are those that remind us of our own past experiences. I think it is because they feel more real. People can get really emotional while watching a movie. How many people cry at a photo exhibit? I believe the emotional appeal of the moving image over the still photograph is that movies feel more real to us. After all, real people move and talk.

From a business standpoint, another major difference between video and still photographs is that the younger generations consume much more of it. If they are your target market, video is of primary importance. I have some personal experience with this. When I was building my photography and video portfolio, I worked quite a bit with local musicians. While they understood that good photography helped their brand, it was more something they felt they had to do. On the video side however, it was something they wanted to do. The picture above is a still from the video “The River” by Edinburgh based band Miasma. The band spent a lot of time thinking about the concept/script for the video, gathering props and making costumes. That level of engagement with a project is something I have never experienced for a photo shoot with people from their generation.

Contrast in Marketing and Photography

We are not very good at judging things in absolute terms. Is £100 for that brand X widget a good deal? Who knows? But when that deal is compared, or contrasted, to the offers from the competition, like brand Y widget costs twice as much with half the features, then we get to think that £100 for that brand X widget is a pretty good deal after all.

Savvy marketers know that you can use the power of contrast to be more persuasive. The classic example is that of the discounted price. The new price is contrasted to the old one to give the potential customer a good reason to buy.

And if your real estate agent takes you around to show you a few houses, it is a safe bet that the first one is going to be expensive and in need of a bit of ‘freshening up’. By contrast, the subsequent houses you visit will all look like great bargains.

The blue background creates a strong colour contrast with the red strawberry, making it 'pop'

The blue background creates a strong colour contrast with the red strawberry, making it ‘pop’ from the photograph

In other words, marketers use contrast to make their offer stand out. And photographers also use contrast to make their subject ‘pop’ from the photograph. In an image, one can use tone contrast, a bright subject against a dark background for example, or sharpness contrast, where a sharp subject stands out from an out of focus background. The photograph above uses colour contrast to make the red strawberry ‘pop’ from the blue background. The use of contrast can be just as effective in photography as it is in marketing.