Archive for March, 2016

New product offering.

Posted: March 31, 2016 in Uncategorized
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With our ever growing event business we have decided to offer a third event image option. We already had the single 12×8 and twin 12×8 image options but we have now introduced the triple 12×8 image option.

This new triple comes at an increased price, as the twin does over the single yet increases the profit % significantly. With the recent rise in print media and mounts the popularity of the twin image helps us maintain a working profit margin whilst maintaining our current prices.

We have had several requests for triple images over the last year or so but had an absolute barrage of requests at the recent National Schools Finals. The decision was made to create it and the PS actions are now sorted and stored.

The first outing for this triple image will be at the NTL 1 Qualifiers in Southampton this weekend. 750 competitors over 2 days should give us a good idea of how well it may sell.

This helps not only keep the customer happy but also my accountant.

Twin Image

A digital images ‘Worth’

Posted: March 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

This subject is something that I know rattles the cage of most professional photographers and indeed rattled mine today.

Amongst my daily plethora of emails I came across one asking for copies of digital images taken at a recent event. We actually offer the option to purchase digital copies of all images within a gallery to allow anyone to source their own subsequent product. This option is indeed very popular with parents as not only do they have the ability to indeed source cheap prints if they choose but also have a prefect copy to display via social media outlets such as Facebook & Twitter etc.

The author of this email today however seemed to be lost with a digital images ‘worth’ or indeed the cost of producing it. The email basically said; If I purchase on photo from you could you please send me the other nine (yes 9) digital images we captured of their child on the day for free.

FREE!!! are they joking? Nope it was decidedly serious.

I replied, politely, explaining the costs etc of our business only to receive a reply which intimated that a digital image costs nothing to produce so how can I justify charging for them. I was astounded and so the list of costs I returned to the customer seemed to do the trick though not exactly hammer the nail home.

Apparently you can get cameras for less than £100 (Yes I know) which produce the exact same digital images according to the emails author (No they don’t) though she mentions nothing of personnel, equipment or how to store, edit, process, upload and maintain a gallery in this £100 budget camera for cost free products.

The final email she sent compared me to Apple and the way they charge people. Apparently we should all offer discounts when we sell more than one product so if she buy’s two music albums the second should be discounted etc etc. If only that worked when we buy cars eh 😉

Some people will just not absorb that digital content also costs money to produce and sell so I will sadly expect similar emails in the future.

As for comparing me to Apple I don’t think she really knows me that well. Wouldn’t mind being a few $’s behind them though 🙂

Something that has been ongoing for a while now which I sincerely hope ends with the saving of this community asset.

I took the images a while back when the campaign first started and allowed both the Swimming Club and The Hull Daily Mail to use the images freely. If my contribution helps, in any way, then that’s my good deed done.

This is the third set of my images used by the HDM so should see an increase in website clicks over the next 24hrs. The last articles actually produced bookings so here’s hoping to fill the last few weekends we have free this year.

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Road Racing

Posted: March 28, 2016 in Uncategorized
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Another new sport we have been commissioned to cover this year is road racing. Our first event was also weekend with some 140 cyclists involved in a 192km road race around the Yorkshire Wolds.

Nothing difficult about this other than sitting in the back of my van with a couple of telephoto lenses capturing the individuals and teams coming towards me down the road. Plenty of time to frame and capture though the time between some of the competitors was a bit boring.

Took the essential flask of coffee out with me plus some tunes on the iPod and had a rather nice couple of hours sat in the spring sunshine.

Several more events throughout the year around the local and regional area so potentially another avenue to follow for custom.

Response to the image gallery was phenomenal which was also good to see. These are in the open gallery section of our website as we need to get some event examples out in the open. We are building the gymnastics side of things to almost saturation point this year yet having to allow accredited coaches and organisers into several secure galleries to show our consistency in quality imagery capture. With over 250,000 images within secure galleries it’s nice to shoot something anyone visiting the site can see in an open gallery.

The gallery is here – http://www.cecilpaulstudios.co.uk/p190558143

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One series we now cover had its 2015 finals last weekend in Wigan. Odd but they don’t actually start the qualifiers until late in the year and then have the finals in the first quarter of the following year. Must be an educational thing.

Anyway the culmination of all the qualifiers and subsequent knock out rounds around the country led us to Wigan for an excellent days competition. Some 400 competitors, all of school age, battling it out for an array of age and ability awards. The atmosphere within the competitors and most of the parents was one of excitement and positivity. As always there were a couple of moaning minis but hey ho the world needs these miserable gits to laugh at.

Whilst there was the usual array of Elite gymnasts form other series we now cover there were also the novice and disabled individuals of which some were truly inspirational. It was superb to see that all the gymnasts encouraged and even assisted in helping some of these gymnasts achieve their given goal. Grassroots sports is all too often neglected these days owing to money etc yet this is where, I personally see, the truly compassionate side of competition regardless of age, gender, money, disability etc etc. Whilst I agree some degree of elitism/dedication is required to reach the pinnacle of any sport people shouldn’t abandon or forget their roots and where they once started at the bottom.

Our coverage of the UK National League starts this weekend down at Southampton. This should be interesting as the whole series of qualifiers is maxed out at the 750 competitor safety limits. Last year we were dealing with 350 – 750 competitors per event so this year will see a marked increase in the obscene amount of images taken and GB storage used with our equipment. I still await the announcement for the 5D Mkiv specification before making a decision on at least one new body owing to the telephone number shutter count one of our 5Diii’s currently has. Nice and quick please Canon 🙂

A quick image showing some of the winners from last weekend.

Twin Image

 

Screen Grabbing Images

Posted: March 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

Something which is becoming somewhat more prevalent is potential customers screen grabbing our images from the online secure galleries. Most offenders are actually the kids themselves who either don’t want to part with a few pounds for an image or just don’t care how this not only affects our income but also places the coverage of events in jeopardy.

When we are made aware of such violations we simply find out their log on emails and send a polite but firm email regarding copyright etc. Easily done via the registration process for viewing our galleries. Nine times out of ten we receive an apologetic email from a parent who had no idea said child had been screen grabbing and the offending image gets removed.

I still find it amazing that some people will happily have one of our images with the word “Proof” slapped over the middle as a profile pic on social media. The subsequent comments gushing about how great the image is and how wonderful the individual is at their sport flow into the comments column yet nobody refers to the word “proof” and that the person posting is a cheap skate purveyor of copyright theft.

Our images are not expensive and we do indeed sell a massive amount online to parents unable to attend for a multitude of reasons. My concern here is that the youth of today has scant regard for digital products and their worth and thus what the future holds for digital content. I for one hate downloads of music and video. I still prefer to hold that physical copy of the CD or Bluray just purchased. The kids of today don’t seem to have that need for the physical product and as such either don’t see the value or choose to ignore. Does this mean that the future of galleries is limited? Will the youth of today grow up with scant regard for digital content copyright thus causing online galleries to disappear?

Regarding sales, compared to known numbers of screen grabbing the issue is nothing major at the moment, though I’m sure there’s plenty we don’t know about. What concerned me enough this week was a selection of screen grabs taken from one of our online galleries and actually placed onto a club site. My email to the head coach was, as always, polite yet firm about copyright and unauthorised use of the images. Her reply was something of a shock as she appeared to genuinely think that she had not done anything wrong. She thought the images were of superb quality and wanted to use them to promote the club as they had nothing of any similar quality. My reply explained that the quality of the images comes at a price. We are not using iPad’s and mobile phones to capture these images but high quality professional cameras and lenses. Our total equipment list for such events rocks in at just under £15,000 which, from her reply, she clearly did not understand. The fact is that just the camera, grip, lens and batteries comes in at roughly £4k. We have 2 of these operating and a backup body also at every event. Add the printers, laptops, screens and additional media and that £15k is quickly reached.

She asked if she could have a copy of the images, all eleven, for promotional purposes. I gave her a discounted price and whilst I shouldn’t have been shocked by her answer it did bring home the digital content issue and obviously the information above about costings hadn’t sunk in. The reply, along the lines of “I only want the Jpegs so didn’t expect to pay as I would have for a print etc etc….” was amazing.

My usual line, when someone just doesn’t get it,  is do you work and can you do something free for me in exchange for my free work to you. The answers can be comical because obviously almost nobody works for free.

The images have now been removed along with all the gushing comments of how super the competitors looked. I do however have a screen grab of my own as proof. I have blocked the actual club name and covered faces but show what could, or already is, a potential threat to the future of digital imagery content. I’m sure there would be moans if the galleries disappeared and non attending parents were unable to purchase anymore.

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Update time. (A little late)

Posted: March 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

So after a completely manic end to 2015 it was a complete pleasure to sit back and enjoy Christmas without any outstanding editing to be completed. Once the Xmas scene shoots were completed it was nice to just relax. There was however plenty of emails to be answered over the period from customers requesting edits of images in galleries. This only took minutes to perform and as it generated further online sales would have been silly to delay. Online sales last year accounted for almost 40% of our income and continues to grow. People are now creating montages of images, from multiple events, over the last three years. People also returned online, in December, purchasing jigsaws, mugs and key rings which would suggest they were for xmas presents.

With nothing booked until the third week in January it was a nice break and gave me time to sort out a few things such as servicing equipment. Both of the 5Diii’s now have massive shutter counts with one knocking on the 100k mark. We managed to shoot just over 15,000 images in December alone owing to the amount of work we had been booked for. Whilst the new 1Dxii has been announced I’m waiting to see the specification of the 5Diii replacement before replacing anything.

January saw us cover another 2015/16 NW National Schools Gymnastics qualifier in Wigan which was a huge success for us as a business. Whilst there we were also booked for the NE National Schools Gymnastics qualifier in Newcastle two weeks later which again proved fruitful for the business. Whilst at these events the organisers also booked us for this years, 2016/17, competitions qualifiers which is a massive boost to our UK profile as event photographers. Our amount of work and profile has indeed reached a company who profess to being the largest event photographers in the UK. One organiser of a main event final, for which we are booked to cover, let me see a rather terse email from them and their disgust at being overlooked to allow ourselves to cover the event. Typically they don’t wish to cover the smaller local events which provide only reasonable, yet acceptable, profits but look to cover the large, indeed very large, profit making finals. Am I bothered about them …… No.

Between those events I had also undertaken a few family portraits. These have also proved fruitful, now I have compiled a specific gallery product list, offering a full selection of products at reasonable prices. After initial sales we have found people returning for further products. What I did here was enquire at several local independent photographers studios about family portraits and pricing of products. I then placed myself quite squarely between the cheap high-street pricing and these other studios. Word seems to have travelled via recommendations and we have several more booked in within the near future. Highlight of those completed so far was selling a 5ft wide landscape canvass, whilst the most popular seller is a 20×16 canvass. Personally I like my framed prints but we have barely sold any large prints though we have sold many smaller prints for grandparents etc. Compared to the event work portraiture is an absolute doddle and can be great fun too. Two families brought pet dogs with them that provided many laughs whilst attempting to capture images. As always blatant bribery, in the form of doggy treats, saved the day.

January also saw some of my images within the pages of the Hull Daily Mail on three separate occasions. I had covered a swimming competition for a local club who’s pool is being closed by an extremely short sighted decision. This was almost a last hurrah of images for them before things finish. I took plenty of images throughout the day and placed them within a gallery for parents etc to purchase. I also placed a selection onto social media with their campaign slogan on. Surprisingly I then received an email from the HDM asking if they could use some of the images, without slogan, for articles. I allowed this and actually got a couple of bookings from people who had seen the images whilst reading the articles which was a nice bonus.

I currently have the next 2 weeks free of events and just one family portrait session booked. We then arrive at what is the start of an 8 month slog of events and weddings. One club even changed the date of an event as we were already booked. Again we are travelling the length and breadth of the country, though nothing for Northern Ireland this year so a boat trip saved there. The UK National Trampoline League finals, in December, don’t yet have a location but here’s hoping to something like the Olympic Park Copper Box Arena last year.

One last thing is a commissioned image I am looking to shoot. The client wants a bright colourful springtime image for her kitchen. This will be a 4-5ft canvass when completed so I am currently awaiting the daffodils and blossom etc to burst out and then showcase a selection for her to choose from. I already have the locations sorted so just need the flowers and colour to arrive.

Stay busy people, have fun, enjoy your work and I’ll be back soon.