A retiring head teacher

Last summer I was asked to photograph Mary Speakman, the retiring head teacher of Altrincham Girls Grammar School. The framed portrait was to be hung in the school hall with the portrait photographs and paintings of other retired head teachers going back over fifty years or more. I thought it was going to be a bit of a daunting task because these types of portrait photographs tend of have a particular style and it’s not one that I’m fond of.

Fortunately Mary wanted something different to the traditional head teacher’s portrait. She had seen my work and asked me to take her portraits my way. I brought makeup artistVicky Spencer with me to do Mary’s makeup and then we set off around school and took a series of photographs for her. My favourite, and the one that was finally chosen was of Mary in her gown while she was sat on the platform that had been built for the sixth form art show in the main hall. I wanted to make a photograph that summed up the academic and creative achievement that goes with a school like Altrincham Girls Grammar School. In the chosen photo Mary is sat amongst the mannequins in the fashion display.

The final framed photograph is 43″ high and hangs in the school hall.

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Business Portraits for Williams & Goodwin – The Property People

I believe in the chaos theory and the randomness of how we meet people that we don’t know but are connected to. When you arrive at an event you never know who you’ll meet and how you may be connected.

I met Melfyn Williams from Williams & Goodwin at a charity event for the Foundation for Peace in Warrington. He was doing the charity auction and I was photographing the event. We got chatting about Anglesey and about work as men tend to do. Shortly after the event Melfyn asked me about doing business portraits for his 35 staff in their four branches in Anglesey & Gwynedd as well as night shots of the offices and a few shots for their 2014 advertising campaign. As luck would have it, the weather at the beginning of January was perfect. I shoot business portraits in natural light, but with short winter days we were on a tight schedule to get everything done and edited in two and a half days. But the weather was kind and everything went according to plan.

I spent much of my childhood on Anglesey and my sister and her family live there so being able to work there for a few days was a real treat. As well as having really friendly people to work with, having uncrowded roads, gorgeous scenery and the chance for a stroll along Trearddur Bay beach after work was just fantastic.

What I didn’t realise was that this would be the first of many shoots in Anglesey and the Lleyn in 2014 and that my repertoire would broaden significantly as a result. My work for Williams & Goodwin was the first major project of 2014 and set the pattern for a wonderful year as a professional photographer.

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Debbie Hayes – A pioneer in organisational transformation

Debbie Hayes asked me to do her business portraits and some ‘action shots’ for her website last winter and I should have posted this blog post months ago but I’m still catching up! As well as her business portraits, she needed photographs of her 1-2-1 sessions and group sessions.

I’d originally met Debbie through networking at Warrington Business Breakfast Group run by Trish Peters. If you haven’t been, it’s well worth a visit. Anyway, back to Debbie; I met her again when I photographed her sister’s labradors, Ruby and Jess.

We organised three shoots for Debbie, one for her business portraits and then two more for her website. Debbie’s business is about helping people to change the way they work and deliver growth or as Debbie puts it, ‘Success without sacrifice‘.

After the photo sessions I asked Debbie for her thoughts on her business portraits and on the marketing photographs I took for her. Here’s what she said:

Launching my website also became an opportunity to revisit my branding to truly reflect my business; therefore the imagery on the site needed to support this. Of particular importance was to help give my target audience a quick understanding of my business.

I knew of other people whom had used Andrew and I felt that he had consistently delivered what they had been looking for.

When I shared some of the images on my social media pages the response was amazing. I’m not the most comfortable person in front of a lens, but Andrew quickly overcame this and captured me in a way that really resonated with how my friends and clients view me – RESULT!!

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Business Portraits with Menai Holidays

“Just a little note to say thank you to the lovely Andrew Collier who took our photos…a fun day for even the less confident subjects in the group! A great photographer for business portraits, weddings and, for that matter, any other event. Without a doubt he is the best portrait photographer I have ever seen! The pictures below are proof!” Judith Matthews, Managing Director – Menai Holiday Cottages Ltd

In February I was asked to go over to Llangaffo on Anglesey to do a business portrait session for Judith Matthews and her team at Menai Holiday Cottages. Menai Holidays is a holiday cottage letting agency offering self catering accommodation in Anglesey, Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula, in North Wales. We did the shoot at The Outbuildings, an absolute gem of a B&B and boutique wedding venue set in peaceful grounds with beautiful views of Snowdonia.

As well as new team shots for the website and marketing literature, we wanted to create a variety of looks for each person and everything had to be done within a day so that the disruption to the business was kept to an absolute minimum.

Most people don’t like being photographed so it’s important to make sure people are as relaxed as possible and don’t get too much time to worry about how they will look in their business portraits. The Outbuildings was a perfect location for photographing people from a holiday business and gave us loads of different, natural backdrops and very good natural light to work with.

I like to keep the pace going and move from backdrop to backdrop quite quickly so that people don’t get bored and so we can create a variety of looks in a short time, making the best use of natural light as it’s much more flattering than the dreaded studio flashing lighting typical of more formal portraits.

Used properly, soft natural light is just perfect for flattering portraits. The light is much kinder and we can just concentrate on letting the subject’s personality shine through.

Here’s a small selection of group and individual portraits from the session.

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February Business Portraits

As social media grows in importance as a marketing tool, and networking, both real and through social media becomes the main route to market for many small (and indeed larger) businesses, professional business portraits become even more important. My business portrait clients use their profile photos on their websites, with news articles online and in the press, on business cards.

Andrew Collier Photography has become well known as a specialist business portrait photographer across the north of England and North Wales, and we photograph business portraits for clients in every profession and trade.

A good business portrait should capture the essence of you and let your character shine through. Anyone seeing your business portrait should be able to engage with you and get a first impression of what you’re like a person in business.

Here are three portraits from a recent business portrait session in Warrington.

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Business portraits with the Challenge Factor

Back in January Geoff Kershaw from the Challenge Factor asked me to do a business portrait session for them. The Challenge Factor specialise in conference and video production. The Challenge Factor was started 30 years ago and they work with many blue chip companies across Europe and have an enviable reputation in the in the video and events industries.

Geoff recognised the value of professional photography and liked my informal approach to business portraiture. I met Geoff when he joined our networking referrals group, BNI Focus, in Lymm. He was very keen to have my style of business portraits for his team and he could see the link between how someone sees a person’s portrait and how they react when they then meet that person for the first time.

We did the session at Castlefield Basin in Manchester, close to Key 103 radio. In our first guest post on my blog, Geoff has written about the session, why they needed new business portraits and how everyone felt about being photographed, and about the results. You can read Geoff’s guest blog post here.

Challenge Factor Business Portraits

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I don't do video but… my friends at The Challenge Factor do…

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to Geoff Kershaw from the Challenge Factor (a video and conference production company in Hale Village near Manchester Airport) about guest blogging. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t ‘do video’ but Geoff and his team do video very well and it seemed a good opportunity to do a guest post about it on my blog. I love the idea of using video as a marketing tool but it’s a specialism for people with a longer attention span than mine. I did a business portrait session for the Challenge Factor recently and we decided to make that the subject of my first guest blog. Over to you Geoff:

It’s the end of a particularly long week (perhaps not the best timing, in hindsight) when I break the news: “I forgot to say, we’re having some new professional profile photographs taken next week.” A couple of the team are delighted, but for some it’s gasps of horror. “Pictures? Of me? Do we have to?” At The Challenge Factor we spend our daily lives hard at work presenting our clients in the best possible light, giving them the confidence to sell themselves and convey their messages with vigour and enthusiasm. So, my reply, is “yes, because professional profile photography, as we all know, is key.” A few grumbles in response, but I’ve got them over a barrel with that retort.

So what makes a good business profile photo and why are they so important? Well, what you want to achieve is familiarity. The internet can be a cold place. Customers are bombarded with discount offers, bold claims, and calls to all different kinds of action. Like this, buy that, go here, read that. But that’s likely not the way you deal with your customers face to face, so should your approach be any different online? You want to stand out from the crowd, show people who you really are, and convince them by using “real” tactics that you’re the one for them. Despite the social media boom online you still can’t beat real, personal connections. Give them a face to associate your name with and you’re already on your way to making that vital first connection.

We chose to use Andrew Collier because (and this will explain what makes a good photo) his photography is natural, unobtrusive and truthful, as well as beautiful! I’m pleased to say that as individuals we’re all pretty comfortable with who we are in our own skins. But when it comes to business it’s a different story. Business owners have less confidence in the “I am who I am, like it or not” attitude because we want all potential customers to love us. But in my experience, customers aren’t at all judgemental – this isn’t online dating, after all. Instead, they appreciate the chance to get to know you that little bit better, see you as a more human entity, and converting an email enquiry into business offline becomes much less of a jump.

As well as great photography you might consider web videos to make that gap even smaller. Compared to text, online video delivers twice as much of the message. Online users generally read only half the text on a page and usually less than 100 words. By comparison, the average person will watch up to 60 seconds of video. For all Andrew Collier customers we’re offering 10% off our special web video rate of £500, meaning you can get a 30 second video, shot in studio against green screen, including editing for just £450 + VAT. Simply quote “Andrew Collier” when you call to book. Take a look at our video production page for more information.

To conclude, we’re thrilled with the pictures Andrew did for us, and they’ve taken a proud place on our website. Head over to our team page to take a look at how we’ve used them to create friendly team profiles and start thinking about how you could create something similar on your website.

Business portraits with Moore Finance

Back in August I was asked by the guys at Moore Finance if I could do a business portrait session for them. They needed new business portraits for their website, presentations, and as avatars and headshots for Linked In, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Their offices are in a wonderful rural location just south of Warrington and we had a fab afternoon doing business portraits with them. Here’s a selection for the day.

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March 2012 Business Portraits

With the new year getting underway, I’ve been delighted by the number of business portrait bookings that we’ve had, as well as other enquiries. January is normally a quiet time, ideal for planning and preparing for the coming year. But it’s full on, mad busy which is fantastic and is a great start to 2013. I’ve been updating my website today and found a few draft blogposts from Spring 2012 which I should have posted before now. Here are a few fab business portraits from March 2012.

These portrait session was shot at the Ramada Encore Hotel in Birchwood, Warrington

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