I’m, like, a creative, man …

A small set of Corporate Portraits for you today, seeing as I spent yesterday afternoon shooting some new ones for one of my clients. I love arriving at what is basically a bland, empty office and being told “Get on with it!” – having to come up with a whole series of images from, well .. nothing! The portraits I shot yesterday are going to be made into posters to be hung all over this particular company’s Manchester offices. They’ll be seen by thousands of people, but I got just an hour and a half to recce the room, set up the lighting, shoot the shots of 20 staff members and de-rig so that the office was empty again for its next meeting. But that’s – like – totally my scene, man! Hey, I even got to incorporate a little bit of sunshine into the picture! Just check out the image on the right! Ooooh, creativity! Je t’aime!…

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Adapt or perish ..

Big Spring push now to get my portrait work up to speed! I need to be shooting more kids – if you’ll pardon the expression – and I hope that, now we’re coming out of the winter, the bookings will start to pick up. It’s all just a matter of getting known around town! With that in mind I rigged up a new montage of images yesterday and added it to my website. I have to say I’m rather pleased with it and, looking at the great variety within it, I think it’s fair to say I offer everything that ‘all the other photographers’ offer .. with a little bit less of the ‘twee’…! Coincidentally I went to a photography talk last night, by a friend who was giving an honest and frank view of the ‘hard times’ we snappers are going through at the moment. One section of his presentation was about ‘Adapting’ to all the changes that have gone on in the photographic world. Me? I think I’m adapting!..

Funnily enough, I have a whole afternoon of shooting portraits today, but these are for a PR company so they’re all – ironically – on location! Wouldn’t you just know it! I’m really looking forward to it though, and I have to remember to leave space at the top of each shot for a ‘speech bubble’ to be inserted because, when the pictures appear as posters at the company, the staff will be appear to be voicing’ their ideas about the way forward for their firm. Perhaps I should shoot a selfie, and drop the words “I will survive!” into ‘my’ bubble…

Flummoxed ..

I admit it! That’s me! Flummoxed! I just do not know the best way to promote my work anymore! On the face of it I seem to be doing everything right, at least as far as ‘Social Media’ is concerned. Blog? Check! (Obviously!) Facebook? Check! Twitter? Check! LinkedIn? Check .. and so on .. BUT .. none of it seems to be bringing in any work! So, yesterday, I decided I’d run a Google Adwords campaign – a small run of online advertising designed to point people to my website. I began it on Monday morning, and spent the day logging back on – with a desperate paranoid compulsion – to see if anybody had looked at the ad! Well, by last night, over 2,000 people had! (As I write, it stands at 2,408 views!) Nearly two and a half thousand views! Amazing!..
 
Except .. of those 2,408 people, a mere FIVE clicked through to my website! Five! I mean, I don’t know .. was that a good click-through rate? Was I doing really well with that figure? The phone rang as I stared at the screen. It was a friend of mine – another Wedding photographer! “Martin ..” she said “I’m flummoxed!” (She didn’t actually use that word but let’s leave it in there for good effect!) “I just don’t know the best way to promote my work anymore!..” she wailed “I’ve not had a booking in absolutely ages! I’m going to start a blog and do Facebook and Twitter like you do!” “Why?..” I said, gulping audibly “What do you now?” “Google Adwords..” she said “I’ve run an ad for the last six months. Haven’t had a thing from it…”
 
Waiter, another shot of bourbon….
 
©Martin O’Neill 2014   

Still Shooting..(?)

It’s been a bit of a quiet time at the studio lately, and the only thing I have on today is a passport shoot for a young lady who’s off to America shortly. It got me thinking about this shot, which has resurfaced thanks to the work I’m doing on my archive of slides. It was taken in Luxor, Egypt, and is of a chap who was taking portraits for passports and official papers. His clients sat on the stool in front of his glamorous backdrop and he would expose a tiny piece of photographic film in his wonder of a camera, which then doubled as his darkroom as he developed and then printed a small photograph inside it. (You can see his bottle of developer and his ‘wash’ on the floor next to him!) I wonder what he’s doing now? Is he still making a living as a photographer, or has digital done for him, too?..

Thwarted ..

I was up bright and early and off to shoot more PR at the Cheese Factory this morning, and barely had had time to put on my glamorous hair-net and hi-vis jacket when everything went quiet and we were plunged into darkness. They’d had a power cut! It was estimated the lights would come back on at around 3.30pm. I’d been thwarted! I drove home ..

Still, it’s given me time to work on my website re-vamp, and I’m finding some lovely old Wedding shots to add that I’d forgotten all about! This one, for example, from about six years ago. Ruthin Castle, North Wales. Lovely!..

Right! Off for lunch. Any cheese?…

I think about The Smiths ..

On a good day I can be up and have three of my old Kodachrome slides spotted before breakfast and today was no exception but, just as I was wallowing in the memories of a back-pack trip round Oz, came the reminder – on Facebook, inevitably – that it’s 30 years to the day since The Smiths’ first album came out. OMG! 30 years! Thirty years? Where has 30 years gone? Thirty years!! OMG!..

Yes, it came as quite a shock! It goes without saying, though, that the LP still sounds absolutely brilliant! I’m playing it as I write. It’s as fresh and exciting and with just as much hair-raising-on-the-back-of-the-neck .. ness as it had when I picked it up as a 23 year old Manchester whippersnapper.
(And yes, I did call it an LP on purpose!) Oh, Morrissey

Ahum! So, I took a bus to Nullarbor, in South Australia, ‘cos I was really interested in seeing what was out there, in the middle of nowhere. Do you know what’s out there? Nothing! You’re in the middle of nowhere. Pretty much like the music scene before The Smiths, eh?…

I think I’ll whip it ..

 

When a problem comes along, you must whip it! And I think I have! ..

 It’s no state secret if I tell you that enquiries for Wedding Photographers have slowed down, but I think I’ve found the answer to my problem…

ManchesterWeddingPhotography.com! That’s going to be the name of my new website! I know! I can’t believe it either, but I was contacted by a chap last week who asked if I’d like to be the owner of this fantastic domain name. “Well, yes..” I said “But surely it’s already taken!?” “It is!..” he said “By me!..” And so it comes to pass, my brothers and sisters, that –  once I’ve got the pages sorted out – I will be the proud owner of a fab new website that’s gotta be guaranteed to whip up new business!

 

Sad to hear of the death of Devo guitarist Bob Casale yesterday. You can’t be of ‘a certain age’ and not know the band’s 80s hit ‘Whip it’, so what a shame to know Bob’s just died of heart problems at only 61 years old. I was lucky enough to see Devo twice, both times at Manchester Apollo. The first gig, in 1980, cost £4! When I saw them about 5 years ago it was £40 but, with apologies for the puny ‘whip it’ line in today’s blog, I just wanted to say ‘Thank You, Bob! It was worth it…”

I think about life .. and cheese!

 

Funny old few days ..
Two birthday parties over the weekend, a client from hell and, today, my friend’s wife’s funeral. All life’s ups and downs in three days flat! The parties were great and I’m sure today will be a great send-off for Julie, but I’ll save for another day the tale of my experiences with ‘the client’. Let’s just say he was one of the most awful men I have ever dealt with! Today’s funeral has put all that into context, though, and my focus is elsewhere..

Speaking of focus, another trip to the cheese factory looms this week! I can’t wait for this visit though, because they want me to “wander around taking snaps” to capture a .. wait for it .. flavour of the place and I’m really looking forward to getting some interesting black and white reportage under my belt.

Anyway, first things first ..

I think I’m in love ..

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! I hope you’re all soaked in love and swamped with cards and chocolates. Of course, I also hope you’re down on one knee proposing, then heading off to book me for your newly-imminent Wedding photography! God, I’m so romantic! (Hey, everything’s commercial, these days! I just need to figure out a way to connect Easter to my website next!) I’m actually offering a free engagement portrait and Signing Board to anyone who proposes today and books me by the end of February – an offer worth £150 – so hurry up off your knees and get cracking!

I think I’ll not get pregnant ..

This morning I had to be in the studio at the crack of sparrowfart – or whatever the expression is – to take a Wedding booking from a chap who called in to see me on his way to work. His fiancé only ‘found’ me last night, and decided to book me without even meeting! Mind you, she was in a bit of a rush! Turns out they’d already booked a photographer but she called them yesterday to say she was pregnant!

Now, how’s that for a USP? Martin O’Neill .. guaranteed never to be pregnant for your Wedding!