It’s taken me far too long, but I finally managed recently to go visit my dear friend Simon at his second home, The Ink Emporium.
This place has been his baby since he and Janie, his amazing business partner and all round incredible tattooist, first opened in July of 2012, and before that he spent years learning his craft, foregoing nights in the pub with our friends to finish off drawings whilst balancing two jobs to save up enough money.
As a friend who, like me, was taking on the task of setting up their own business and going self-employed, we’ve always paid pretty keen attention in each other’s progress and encouraged the other on! (To be fair, he’s a bit further ahead in the game than me, so I’ve probably gained most from watching his journey and seeing him succeed – feeling proud and inspired!)
But since then, we’d always planned for me to come spend the day with them eventually, once everything was set up, and get some nice pictures of Simon & Janie in action!
So why did it take so long?
Whilst most of my friends have passed through their doors and actually gotten a little ink themselves, as a person who’s never yet committed to getting a tattoo, I’ve had no reason besides the photography to travel on over to Clayton, but still, it had been on my to-do list all that time – and I’m a big list-writer, so I mean literally! Once one page of reminders was mostly crossed out, back to the top of the list went Simon’s name on my new sheet of paper.
Obviously, I could probably take some of the blame… I’m sure if I’d just suddenly appeared one day or been a little pushy about it we would have gotten it done sooner but I figured Simon would give me a heads up when he thought they were ready. I understand and appreciate the time it can take to feel confident, established and really ready to show yourself off to the world! I’ve definitely never been the type to rush things unnaturally and am glad for the time I’ve spent preparing my little business up until today.
Eventually though, I did just decide. That weekend, I would show up – whether they were ready or not. I could always come back again in the future. But it was actually really productive! And I think we all learned a thing or two from what we got out of the day. So here are my 3 key thoughts about why you should open up your business to being photographed…
#1 There will always be another target on the horizon to reach that will perfect, refine and strengthen your brand or business, but that doesn’t mean you should hold out!
As far as The Ink Emporium was concerned, it was a matter of getting their shiny new studio looking a little more lived in. Finding ways to stamp their personality onto an otherwise, by nature, very clean environment, and adding work and inspiration to their walls.
What you have to recognise though is that even businesses and brands have a process of evolution. There’s obviously tons of design and planning behind them, and it’s great to be prepared and truly put your best foot forward for your audience – we all want a cohesive, recognizable image and vibe that hopefully stands out from the crowd – but they’re still never completely locked in.
You also want to be able to adapt and grow with your audience and find longevity in the value of your business. If you don’t start sharing your story and putting yourself out there, you’ll never begin to start building that relationship with your audience. So yes, you can allow yourself under the lens even if you don’t think you are quite ready. It’s better to open up that conversation and put your image out there than to hold back!
#2 People sometimes underestimate what they’ve achieved so far as a business, or what their brand is capable of!
It’s easy to overlook and undervalue the things you glance over everyday… Just having a fresh pair of eyes can make a huge difference to someone’s impression.
When I was working in restaurants we often tried to do a little walk through our site, trying to perceive things through the customer’s eyes and make sure everything was spot on. But that practice is not always just about checking for flaws! What I find usually happens actually, when coming across or visiting somewhere new, is that the wow-factors just grab my attention and distract from the few things that might be slightly out of place or unfinished. The details and character are new to my eyes so I haven’t gotten bored of them yet and looked beyond.
And this is even more so true when that new visitor is someone who specialises in looking for beauty and capturing it, like a photographer!
It was pretty apparent as soon as we had a moment to look through the photos from the day so far, that Simon & Janie were really pleasantly surprised by how their studio came across in the images! Decorations and even just their tools of the trade had taken on a new lease of life! It was really lovely to see their reactions and the evident pride they felt seeing their studio all over again.
#3 We don’t always realise what photography can do to spur us on from a personal perspective, not just from the perspective of our audiences.
We all recognize the benefit of having great photography to represent your business to the outside world. When you see those brands that are at the top of their game, looking glossy and organised with gorgeous images across their website and social media, you immediately recognise they’re going to have a higher level of quality and integrity. It’s a great foundation for trust with their consumers.
But when it comes to this waiting game where the task is put off, in order for everything to feel perfect and ready first, we’re overlooking the benefits it can provide for ourselves as well.
It’s a pretty similar experience to how I’ve felt in getting this glorious new website set up! Now I’ve got this amazing position to stand from, not only do I want to do it justice and live up to the expectations it sets, but I feel that much more capable and inspired… I can grow into this business, starting from a place I’m already incredibly proud of!
For Simon and Janie, I witnessed the immediate boost they got from their first look over these images, and now I know as they move forward using this new photography, it’ll give them these same feelings of confidence and energy to take their business to the next level!