Triple the Giggles!

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So, this week saw the latest birthday visit to the studio of these gorgeous triplets. One I always look forward to!

And this time, celebrating their FOURTH birthday!

They’ve been in each year on their actual birthday, and before that at 8 months old. It’s lovely seeing how much they’ve changed each time they come in. Growing up fast!

Here’s the post I blogged after their First Birthday Photoshoot back in 2014: https://romseyfotografix.blog/2014/03/01/a-sneaky-peak-behind-the-scenes-of-the-adorable-triplets-first-birthday-shoot/

They usually bring in a favourite present or two that they’ve been given for their birthday – and this time was no exception. They were very excited to show me their new toys when they arrived. And these of course featured in one or two of the shots!

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There was lots of running around and squeals of laughter, along with some great cuddles for their mum!

And they really got into the swing of dressing up and having a little song and dance at the end of the session.

So funny 🙂

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And a few highlights from across the years…

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You see why this “job” is so rewarding 🙂

In the Beginning Part 2: 2006 Getting off the ground

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February 2006.  I had my nice little studio, plus the part time receptionist job to keep me going.  All I needed were some clients.

There was no social media of course in those days to help spread the word. I had placed an ad in a local magazine but that wasn’t due out for a few weeks. As you may remember from the previous post, I called upon friends and family to be my “guinea pigs” to help me on my way, so there were lots of opportunities to test everything out before the ad went live and “real” customers started to book in!

And so it did.

As is often the way with advertising, the enquiries trickled in at first. One booking here, another there, and another, if I were lucky, three weeks later.  I didn’t expect it to take off big time overnight, even if I did live in hope! I knew it would be tough going in the early days.

The part time receptionist job I was still doing wasn’t really for me, so three months in I found myself another local long term temporary job, working there a couple of days a week, which at the time fitted in well with the few bookings I was getting at the studio.

Then fate stepped in.

In late spring, I got a call out of the blue from a college asking to book us to go and photograph their prom. I said a very excited “yes” – but little did I know what I was letting us in for, especially with our somewhat limited experience at the time. It turned out to be quite a night!! Lee and I took our lights and backdrop to the venue to set up a studio there, and our youngest son came along to help – thank goodness! We sure needed the extra hands – it was utterly crazy!!!! I’m not quite sure how we made it through the evening. Although adrenaline and several wine gums helped, I seem to remember! It was absolutely exhausting, and we were frazzled at the end of it, but it was thankfully an overwhelming success – and we thoroughly enjoyed the buzz of it all!!

That was my first lucky break and from it came several new leads and clients.

Yes, business was picking up, but it was still early days. The expense of the studio was no way paying for itself as yet. I got to the point of wondering if I could afford to carry on, with keeping the studio at least, but after much discussion with Lee, we decided we had to give it a little more time. We’d ploughed so much into it so far, we simply had to persevere.

I was also getting requests for larger family groups to come in, but that first small studio just didn’t allow for lots of people at once. Rather than turn down these types of bookings, we took the bull by the horns and decided to move to a larger space, still at Basepoint http://www.basepoint.co.uk/locations/romsey. Fortunately the rent wasn’t too much of an increase and soon paid for itself as the extra space meant I could take on larger group bookings which I couldn’t before.

So by the summer of 2006 we had moved into Studio Number 2 !

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Studio Number 2

Then along came another great opportunity.

A local school rang and said they were looking for a photographer to go in one October weekend and do mini-sessions with as many of their families as possible and they’d like us to do it.

Woah – really? Did I hear that right? “Why, yes of course, thank you so much!”

It turned out to be just the opening we needed and a fantastic weekend – if very hectic – 40 photoshoots in two consecutive days – yikes!! Completely shattering, oh yes, but we learned heaps. Not to mention, we met loads of lovely families, some of whom could well be reading this.  You know who you are!!  Delighted to say many of you are still coming in today, as well as over the years pointing several of your friends in my direction, which was, and still is, fantastic.

So by the end of 2006, things were progressing just fine. I had a regular ad in prime position on the back page of a local free magazine which worked very well at the time, along with referrals from folk who had been in during the year and were spreading the word. And as more and more people were coming in and telling their pals, the bookings really started to snowball.

I was so very glad I had kept on going and not thrown in the towel when things got tough earlier in the year. It became time to give up the part time temporary job that had been keeping me afloat. I’d been happy there, but the studio was now at the stage of keeping me so busy, there just weren’t enough hours in the week for me to do both.

By January 2007, one year in, came another defining moment. I had outgrown studio number 2. I desperately needed room to hang all my sample wall display products and photobooks. I had accumulated quite a few by this time, but there just wasn’t enough space where we were to show them to their best advantage. Also, ideally, a separate reception area.

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Studios 1 & 2 were both in this building at Basepoint

We knew Basepoint had several workshops on site which were much larger, so decided to take a look at one. As we gazed around the huge empty warehouse, with its brick walls and stone floor, it was Lee I think, who said, “you know, we could make this work”.

And indeed we did.

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When I took the above pic of the Basepoint car park in August 2006, I had no idea that Unit 45, which coincidentally happened to be in the shot and at the time housed another company, would within a few months become home to Romsey Fotografix.

We went home and planned the layout, then took a trip to B&Q to order board to make partitions and flooring, wallpaper, etc – plus lots of white paint!  Then a lorra, lorra hard work over one weekend to put it all together, with the brilliant help of my lovely sister Lynne and her hubby. Shameless plug for Lynne’s page https://www.facebook.com/Lynne-Arty-Stuff

Back to the story …  once all the building and decorating was done, I had a carpet fitted over the rest of the stone floor to give it all a more homely feel. Then added some comfy chairs and display cabinets for the finishing touches.

Phew! Before you could say “cheese”, I had this amazing new studio with its large fixed backdrop for taking photos (hooray, no more paper backgrounds!!), a neat little waiting area, and plenty of space for displaying all my products.

Golly. Dream. Come. True. Pinch. Myself.

And so our third studio at Number 45 has served me well to this very day 🙂

Needless to say there have been lots of changes in other aspects of running the business since those early days – the advent and huge rise of social media for one and so many advances in technology. More about the impact this has all had in another post!

How it all Began: Dreams DO come true

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Have you ever had a dream and felt it could never in a million years come true?  Me too. But when you really set your mind on something, dreams can become reality! 

As mine did.

I guess it was in the October of 2005 I had yet another one of “those” moments in the job I was doing at the time; you know, one of those days, nothing going to plan, just banging your head on a brick wall despite your best efforts. You feel like screaming rather loudly and walking out there and then.

I didn’t walk out at that moment, tempting though it was, but I did think, “what on earth am I doing, spending the best part of my life feeling unhappy, doing such a thankless task” (as indeed I felt the role I was doing was). A feeling which was becoming more and more regular. If it hadn’t been for the smashing people I worked with, I’m sure I wouldn’t have stuck it out for the 5 years I did.

One day something happened, I can’t even recall exactly what, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew I couldn’t put up with it any longer. I rang Lee and asked him what he thought of the idea of my opening a photography studio?

He didn’t bat an eyelid! Well he knows I can be very determined when push comes to shove and best to go with it than against 😉 So he just said, “Why not? Go for it!!” Bless him.

We both knew leaving my job AND taking on the commitment of a premises was a pretty drastic move all in one go. But I’d been doing a bit of research as to the units Basepoint http://www.basepoint.co.uk/locations/romsey had to offer and because of their easy in/easy out clause, I knew I wouldn’t be committed to the premises for a long period of time should things not go to plan.

We’d been doing photography in our spare time for a number of years, at clients’ houses and a few weddings for friends, so it was something I knew I really loved and couldn’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend my working days.

So, having got the go ahead from his nibs, straight after that phone call I gave in my notice. Shortly afterwards we went to see Basepoint to secure a unit.

All too easy. Then it hit. Errrrr …. Yikes what have we done!!!! #ScaryMoment

Our premises would be ready in January, and I was lucky in that my boss allowed me to work a couple of months’ notice, rather than the usual one, so the timing was great. I left there at Christmas 2005; in the meantime I’d found myself a part time receptionist job to begin from January, to coincide with starting up the studio. Had to keep some pennies rolling in while I was getting it off the ground!

Then it was all systems go – loads to sort out!

A real toughie was coming up with a name for the new business, knowing that once you’ve settled on something you’re kind of stuck with it for the duration. Lee and I did a lot of brain storming and came up with all sorts of things, eventually settling on Romsey Fotografix. I’m probably more fond of the name now than when I first decided upon it. I ‘spose it’s the familiarity thing and relating it to the good times it’s brought me. The biggest drawback was, and still is, the spelling which seems to cause no end of confusion. Invariably Fotografix is spelt wrongly … Photografix, Fotographix, Photographics, and all sorts of other weird and wonderful varieties!

In a previous life, I’d run a small graphic design business for several years, Lasting Impressions, so I was familiar with what running a business entails, although on a much smaller scale as I’d had no premises and overheads as such.  Luckily our accountant at the time, who I’d known for years through working with him on the other company, gave us some great advice and generally helped us along our way with that side of things.

A website of course was crucial. After a bit of Googling I found a provider who specialises in websites for photographers called Photium and I have kept with them until this day. They are great to deal with and it’s very straightforward to update and put my own slant on. Ideal.

MOVING IN

So having spent the best part of January 2006 sorting out the nitty gritty, it was finally time to move in!

So this very date, 27 January 2006, we got everything in and set it all up. Then I took stock of the space that was to be my very own studio. Wow! It was a heady mix of emotions for sure … thrilling, exciting, nerve racking, daunting … you get the picture! I had to pinch myself as it all seemed a bit too good to be true!

That very first studio space was in one of Basepoint’s smallest offices. It was a tight squeeze that’s for sure, as you can see from the pic! But we managed to fit in a backdrop and a few chairs, plus those trusty tubs which have travelled along the journey with me!   It was a lovely light and airy space so worked pretty well.

But …. eeeeek … there was still such a long way to go!

I did loads of practice shoots with the help of my lovely family and friends. This gave me much needed valuable experience, as well as some pictures to put on the website and use in my advertising. I was learning a lot, discovering what worked best and what didn’t, both in the photos I was taking, and the way the studio was set up. Even though Lee and I had been taking pictures in people’s homes for a while, they had been of the more traditional and formal type, with the old style backdrops and the sort of “sit and smile” approach, as was still fairly normal at that time.

However those types of images were a definite “NO, NO, NO” for my new studio. Oh indeed! Nothing formal about it! It was going to be fun, fun, fun all the way!! Fortunately it was a way of working  that came very naturally to me. But nonetheless, lots to learn.

Do you know what my biggest wake-up call was? A month or two in, a (needless to say) anonymous person sent me a very rude message via the website basically saying that my photos were awful – and that would be the polite way of putting it! I was absolutely mortified! Talk about give my confidence a rocking. I had thought I was coming along OK, but then again I was mainly still taking photos of family and friends who were, naturally, being very complimentary.

That nasty comment in fact did me a huge favour. I took a good hard look at my pictures. Then I took a good look again at other more experienced photographers’ websites, plus those of some of the pros who are top of the game. Then another look at my own. And I thought to myself, “hmmm, maybe this person has got a point”.

From that moment on I knew I had to seriously up my game else it might be game over!

Being a successful people photographer, is much more than having an expensive camera and being able to take a decent photo and all the technical stuff that is part and parcel of that. It’s also, and probably more importantly, about bringing out the best in folk, making them feel great in front of the camera, knowing when to click the shutter at just the right moment, and lots more besides. These things start to become instinctive the more experienced you become.  This quote by Paul Caponigro kind of sums it up “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”

It made me realise that I must never, ever rest on my laurels or get complacent. There is always room for improvement and always will be.

A philosophy that sticks with me to this very day.

And so things were underway. Now it was just the small matter of finding some clients 🙂 I’ll save that one for the next instalment!

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2015: A year in pictures – 365 Project Update!

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I won’t tell a lie and say it hasn’t been challenging. Indeed I would say at times it’s even been a bit of a pain. But that said, I’m so glad I persevered with my 365 day project throughout 2015.

I’ve put a few collages together of some of the highlights, in no particular order.

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OK, call me a glutton for punishment, but I will be carrying it on again this year too 🙂

How’s about you?  I’d love to know if any of you have kept up the challenge, as I remember some of you started one at about the same time as me. Or is anyone considering doing one? If so, will you have some kind of theme, which is a very popular idea, or just a daily photo Ie like a diary of your year, as I do? Well, that’s sort of what I do.

Mine started as the latter in the first year. But I soon discovered I was being way too strict with myself, such as having to post on the very same day, of something that took place actually on that day, and limiting the images purely to personal Iphone photos. It was becoming so tricky that I almost gave it up.

I stuck it out, but I knew realistically if I was to carry it on, I’d have to cut myself some slack. I loved the idea of having a diary in pictures of my year, and for 2014 I produced a photobook at the end of it, as indeed I am in the process of doing for last year’s too. It’s a lovely momento to be able to flick through from time to time. This was my 365 Project post for 2014 complete with pic of the book! https://romseyfotografix.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/a-year-in-a-heartbeat/

With my lifestyle, it was proving impossible to find something original to photograph and include each and every day. This might sound a bit of a peculiar thing for a photographer to say, as I take thousands upon thousands of photos in a year. But of course, the majority of these are work related, so a lot of my time is spent either in the studio, or in my home behind my desk editing, with just the 8 minute drive in between!

So in order to carry on the project, at the beginning of 2015, I was much easier on myself, and started to include some of my studio shots (mostly with a different creative slant added) alongside my personal pics, but without them necessarily having to be taken the same day, unless l had happened to have gone somewhere different. So the end result is a lovely, varied combination of places we’ve been, new objects that mean a lot to me (like gifts I’ve been given), as well as some of my favourite shots from your photoshoots and weddings.

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This means my latest book will be a colourful, and very mixed collection of my favourite pictures I took last year, which I reckon are much more reflective of my life than just trying to find something to photograph every day for the sake of it. Some days I do a small collage of several pictures if I can’t choose a favourite. Sometimes, if I feel like it, I add a bit of text, such as a quote of some kind, often with the help of one of these Apps https://romseyfotografix.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/3-awesome-apps-for-making-words-phrases-look-really-amazing/

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I will continue to do more of the same for my 2016 project. Experimenting with different lighting and angles, hunting out new Apps with even more different effects, and trying out all sorts of things to make each day’s image original and a little out of the ordinary. Dare I say, quirky, even. (Yikes, my youngest son hates when I use that word!) Yep, it’s purely for my benefit, so anything goes. If something doesn’t work so be it, I’ll just try something else. For me, it’s all about trial and error, sometimes things you think will turn out great simply don’t, and other times you try something expecting it not to look good and the result is amazing. It’s all part of the fun. And a very useful creative learning curve.

Ok, it’ll still be a bit of a headache deciding what to post each day. Last year sometimes I’d leave it a week and then upload a whole 7 days at once! But I truly love the picture diary I have to look back on at the end of the year, so I reckon it’s worth keeping it up if only for that smashing keepsake! But actually it is also such a valuable exercise to keep the ol’ creative juices flowing which I personally find hugely beneficial in my day to day work, helping to keep all my ideas for pictures, both for work and play, as fresh and innovative as possible.

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For those of you who don’t know, I use an App called Photo365 to document my daily pictures. You can find out more about it here http://www.photo365app.com I love it as it’s nice and simple to use and you can see each month of pictures at a glance or scroll through them all on a daily basis for a closer look.

I’d love to hear about any of your photography projects too 🙂

 

 

Back to normality … and a special anniversary coming up!

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There we are then. The holidays are done and dusted for another year; decorations are all back in the loft, house is back to normal, delicious festive treats are (nearly) all eaten and enjoyed. 2016 is officially underway!

Hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year break? Ours was one of mixed emotions, we had a super Christmas Day itself with all the family. But December was overshadowed with sadness, with two funerals to go to, both on the first and the last day of the month. Made us count our blessings even more so than usual.

So, into the New Year. This month, as you may remember, is the 10th anniversary of Romsey Fotografix. Those years have sure flown by in the blink of an eye but have brought with them a giant bucket load of fantastic moments and opportunities along the way.

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It’s been such an amazing decade in my life; meeting so many lovely families; photographing your children as they grow up, and (hopefully) providing you with some treasured memories at the same time. Also, learning so much along the way, doing my best to keep up to speed with all the latest technology and software, along with the onset of social media and researching all about that, and joining as many training courses as I’ve been able to fit in.

All of which I find extremely fulfilling.

As I’ve said many a time, it’s a job I absolutely LOVE! In fact, how can I call it a ‘job’? OK, it keeps me extremely busy, but no complaints there! Most of the time it doesn’t feel like work at all.

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting about how Romsey Fotografix came about and the way things have changed over the years, as indeed they have in so many ways! Oh, and look out for some giveaways and offers!  Also I’m delving into my archives to show several of your ‘then and now’ pictures. Thanks to everyone so far who has kindly given me permission to do so – if you haven’t already and would be happy for me to include some of your previous pictures from way back when, alongside your more recent shoots, please let me know.

 Onwards and upwards !!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year 🙂

A pair of gloves and a lick of paint.

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Yep – you may well ask:  why am I wearing gloves on my feet?

Well here’s the story in a nutshell …

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New look wall and panorama of reception. Oh, and those gloves!

A slight change of plans yesterday morning became the perfect opportunity to spruce up the reception area in the studio.  All the new sample frames have recently arrived and the wall display area needed rearranging to fit them all on. Off with the old and on with the new!

Great timing as it happens to coincide with my new price list which is well underway, and so that you are able to see the new products on the wall as soon as possible.

As Lee and I were taking all the pictures down, we thought, what better time to give it a coat of paint?   We both felt something a little more colourful this time would be ideal, so off we went for a fleeting visit to B&Q.  Luckily we agreed quickly on a colour to blend in well with the chairs etc, so it was back to the studio to roller it on.

And the gloves?

I keep an old pair of overalls in the studio for when we paint the backdrop, so that was fine, but, it suddenly occurred to me I was wearing my new(ish) sandals – so there’s where the painting gloves came in to keep them from getting splattered with mandarin-coloured paint.  I’m very good at being messy with paint! I didn’t have any better ideas and they did the trick, even if they did look pretty ridiculous!!

And no, I’m not going to post a pic of myself in the very unflattering overalls.  The world isn’t quite ready for that one.

It took us the best part of the day to get everything done – but well worth it, I hope you agree 🙂

And speaking of the new brochure – I’ll be posting soon a sneaky peek of that.  There’s a bit of a radical change to pricing from previous ones …

Petals, Ants and Dragonflies! Errr, what?

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Every now and then it makes a refreshing change to break from the normal routine and do something a little different, and it was amazing yesterday to do just that.

Training is not something we do as a rule, but sharing our knowledge is never a problem and, may I say, we had a very enjoyable time in so doing.

Katie arrived at the studio bright and early, camera in hand, and along with her boyfriend, Sam, who had kindly volunteered to be her model for the day. After an initial chat over tea and coffee, we gleaned what photographic experience Katie had already, and what she was keen to learn more about.

We knew in advance that Katie was especially interested in Macro photography, and from what she told us, had taken some impressive closeup images of bugs and things already. Our own expertise in Macro photography is not vast (it is a very different genre to taking people pics!) but we were happy to share what we do know about it. Lee had set up a camera with a Macro lens on a tripod in the studio, using a small toy caterpillar as a very willing (and remarkably still!) model 😉 . Katie was able to practice some shots with that, and then try the same with her own camera so she could compare the results.

Luckily the earlier rain had cleared up, and the sun made a welcome appearance, meaning we were then able to get outside for Katie to take some close-up shots of some of the flowers. With impeccable timing, an ant decided to trot across the petals she was taking, followed soon after by a couple of dragon flies. The shots Katie took looked great on the back of her camera, particularly the detail of the ant, cool.

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Lee advising on the best camera settings

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Lunchtime already; time sure flies when you’re having fun … so a nice relaxing nosh for the four of us at the Luzborough, then back to the studio for some shots of Sam.

This proved to be hilarious, and there were plenty of giggles and laughter; a super relaxed atmosphere, always a plus when taking people shots! We had various setups so we could show Katie the difference between taking high key shots, and then how to achieve the more moody, low key images on the darker backgrounds. Her resulting pictures were excellent, and Sam did a great job as a model! I took a few shots myself as we went along, so I could demonstrate how different poses work, and also to show how different crops and edits can really transform an image.

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We headed outside again, as there are some great little areas in the Basepoint car Park for model shots, so she was able to try out and see the difference between using a speedlight, and just using the natural light available (infinitely better as is often the case), and making use of the various settings such as the steps and brick walls. Both seemed to be in their element, and I, of course, recorded it all on my trusty Iphone!

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And was able to concoct this unusual collage for my day’s pic for my 365Photo Project!

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A big thank you to Katie and Sam for making the trip down and for such a brilliant day. 🙂

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