We’re lucky to have a number of talented photographers in Urmston, covering all bases and styles including wedding, lifestyle, corporate, portrait etc, with many of them adapting to continue work during lockdown.
We caught up with Alison Groves of Alison Groves Photography (www.alisongroves.com) for a quick Q&A to find out how and why she started her business and learn more about ‘brand’ photography; a concept that she started to specialise in around five years ago…
When did you set up?
My business started in 2002 when I decided I no longer wanted to be in the corporate world. I had spent months and months writing lists of what I thought I was good at, and what I thought I could earn money doing – and kept coming back to photography. I spent that first year setting up the business – initially doing weddings and portraits, whilst working a very full time job with a law firm, but managed to get a full summer of weddings booked for the following year – and that gave me the confidence to hand my notice in. At the time I was one of very few female photographers in the North East (where I was living at the time), and one of even fewer who were offering something different from the very boring group shots that wedding photographers used to do.
Did you always want to be a photographer?
From a very early age I started taking a camera with me everywhere – initially family holidays, school trips, then nights out and days out, but I had never really considered it as a career option. At school I was told I was not creative – because I can’t draw….so that was that…I went on to do a degree and a masters in a very different subject. It was only when I had graduated and been in the career for a few years that I started to question whether I wanted be in a job like that until I retired – the answer was most definitely NO!! My second year in business I had my first son, so that was a challenge – but business was growing and growing each year.
What’s the best job you have ever done?
I can’t pinpoint one job in particular as every shoot is special for different reasons. I now only do weddings for people I know, rather than relying on that as my main business – after 18 years of shooting them, I wanted to stretch myself more. I still do lots of family portrait sessions – always on location and not in a studio, so they are very relaxed and natural.
About 5 years ago I started to specialise in brand photography. I realised that I had always done this kind of work for client – it just didn’t have a label. Each day can be very varied….I had one day where I photographed a 4 day old baby girl in the morning, followed by a brand shoot for a burlesque troupe, then a cake cutting with Dame Margaret Barbour at the Barbour Factory…..a lot of very different women in one day!
I also volunteer for a charity called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep doing shoots for bereaved families, or parents who’s new baby isn’t going to survive for very long – as you can imagine, every one of those shoots is incredibly hard, but I know what a difference it makes to the families involved.
Personal branding involves influencing the way potential customers see you and view your products or services, which is why personal brand photography can have such a massive impact. Professional photos are an asset and will serve you for years to come. Having a bank of on brand, professional, memorable and bespoke images will not only save you time, it will attract more of the right clients and make you more money into your business. The photographs and visuals you use are a massive part of what can make your brand and business stand out, and they can make or break your entire brand presence.
What do I love about Urmston?
Urmston is where I grew up. I moved away when I went to Uni, and only came back 8 years ago. Manchester was always where my heart was. The Urmston I moved back to is very different – in a good way. We have always had some very strong local businesses, but it feels very much like a community now. Everyone gets behind the new businesses that are springing up on the high street, and for those of us without a shop front, there is a growing network of creatives helping each other out.
How are you working during the lockdown?
Times are obviously challenging for lots of businesses now. All of my family portrait shoots and personal branding shoots are on hold for the foreseeable future, but I have still been working for some of my clients in a few different ways. Some clients who have a physical product to sell are working with me to update their product images. I am receiving deliveries of products to shoot at my home studio, and for food related clients I have done recipe development as well as photography. For clients who offer a service rather than a product, I am working with them to create a stock library of images that relate to their business without them actually having to appear in the shots!
Where do you want your business to go in the next few years?
I want to keep on building the branding shoots that I do, as it involves meeting such interesting business owners. I think that the current situation has shown people the importance of being able to show up online, and how important your visibility is to grow a business currently. Lots of my clients are repeat customers and this allows us to build up a rapport and for my clients to grow their portfolio. I would therefore like to build on the client base I have who keep me on a retainer as their “go to” photographer. I love working with small artisan businesses and helping them shout about what they do – so more of this would be perfect.
These last few weeks in lockdown have also shown me how important the family portraits I do are to clients. People might not put as many framed images on their walls as they used to a few years ago – but those images are precious none the less. I already have lots of clients wanting to book shoots once we are all allowed out again and this is a part of my business that I would also like to keep growing.
I am also growing the work I do on branding for clients, working with talented graphic designers and marketing experts to get businesses where they want to be. Having 18 years’ experience in running my own business helps enormously with this.
And finally, I am also concentrating on growing a content library of images that clients can subscribe to and access a wide range of photography for their businesses. I will be creating both bespoke and generic photography that will add huge value to my clients’ businesses.
If you want to check out more of Alison’s work please take a look at the links below
Website – http://alisongroves.com/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/aligroves/