Guest Interview with Photographer Gemma Griffiths

Aug 4, 2023 | Photographer Guest

“Show Notes”

This week Sam and Marcus talk to Gemma Griffiths.

Gemma is a branding and family photographer based in South Wales. She has 16
years experience in the industry. She offers bespoke personal branding shoots,
headshot shoots and family photoshoots in lots of fabulous locations around South
Wales. Gemma also offers photography training for beginners and professional
photographers too. You can
book a one to one training session or join one of her group workshops

We take Gemma back to the start of her career when she started, as a travel
photographer. She then switched into portraits and weddings. after taking some
photography courses. It’s a full time job for her and now focusses her attention on
branding photography.

Gemma was drawn to working with businesses due to the flexibility and more
creative approach. Her practice has grown organically even during the Covid crisis.
Generally working with solopreneurs she showcases services and products and really gets across the USP of every business.

Gemma works mainly on location and works closely with the client to build up the
direction of the photoshoot she is very “client led”. Showing personalities of the

business owners as well as their skills.

Coming up with the concept is very appealing to Gemma and loves coming up with
ideas as well as helping put into vision clients own ideas as well.

Having been one Linkedin for a couple of years Gemma is fascinated by ow her
clients and others use photographic imagery on-line. Whether it be for testimonials
and quotes, advertise their services and products.

Aiming to deliver 100-150 images per shoot, she encourages her clients to have
multiple wardrobe changes to get maximum value. Sam goes on to discuss extra
services that can be offered by photographers: banners, reels and so on. For
Gemma her clients are quite savvy in doing this

and Marcus does offer extra services to his subscription clients.

Marcus asks how she manages her two different client groups business clients and
personal clients. She does this by setting up different social media accounts and
splitting up her website accordingly. Linkedin for business and families on
Facebook.

As we close the show we discuss camera equipment. Gemma shoots on a
mirrorless Sony and usually uses 35mm and 85mm lenses, Light room for editing
and Photoshop for deeper edits.

“Show Transcription”

Marcus: Hello. Sam. How are you doing?

Sam: Very good, Marcus. How about you,

Marcus:  I’m really good, thank you. Really a very pleasant week indeed, mainly because I’ve been away doing a bit of traveling, so it’s been quite nice. And do you know what? This week we’ve got a very unusual guest because we’ve got a photographer at last. I know we don’t normally have photographers on this show, we normally have people who use photography, but I saw our guest’s work and I was so taken by it. The quality of her photography is supreme and she’s got so much experience and knowledge of the business, I thought we’ve got to get her on. The guest we’ve got today is Gemma Griffiths, who’s a photographer based in South Wales in the UK. She specializes in branding photography and working with families. So how are you doing, Gemma?

Gemma: I’m good, thank you. Thanks for having me. My pleasure.

Marcus: Gemma, obviously two photographers in a room, we could go on forever all day, but let’s get straight to the chase and tell me how you started off in this business.

Gemma: Well, I was always interested in photography when I was at university and I did a lot of traveling when I was younger and I really was interested in travel photography and landscapes and it was kind of a hobby then. But when I had my daughter 17 and a half years ago, I started doing portrait photography and then was photographing friends, children, and while I was on maternity leave I thought, well, this is the chance for me to get started in photography. If I don’t take the chance now, probably never will to leave. And I went and bought a new DSLR camera and the rest is history.

Marcus: You started off basically as a hobby or did you have in mind about going into the business straight away?

Gemma: Yeah, well, I’d already done some training and I’d done some college courses in the evenings and I’d obviously had experience doing it as a hobby, but then I decided, no, I wanted to start as a business. It was only intended to be part-time, but now, years later, it’s a full-time job. But it was supposed to be just around looking after my daughter and then after her. So it started off part-time and mainly just photographing families. Then I did weddings for a bit and kind of moved into branding photography in the last few years, which I’m really enjoying.

Sam: So Gemma, what made you make the move into branding photography?

Gemma: Well, I always enjoyed I used to get headshot inquiries and just do a few bits and pieces while I was mainly concentrating on family photography. And I really enjoyed working with adults and most of my clients initially were creative from the creative industries, and I really enjoyed working in that kind of space with on a one to one basis and planning shoots. It’s a completely different way of working than itis with young families, and I really enjoyed it. And also it meant I could do it during the week, so it wasn’t so weekend based. And then I just started to advertise and show my work and do a bit more in that area, and it just kind of grew from there. So it just took off weirdly during and after the pandemic. So I thought I’d probably be doing less work, I guess. But I don’t know whether it was during the pandemic or after that. People just decided to start new businesses or I’m not sure what it was, but I started to get loads of inquiries about doing branding shoots, and so it’s just kind of built over the last three or four years.

Marcus: That’s really interesting what you’re saying there, Gemma. So you transitioned, you were doing families, you were doing weddings as well, but then you transitioned into branding because it suited more of your lifestyle. Just for our listeners out there, could you just maybe tell us what you think is the main difference of that genre, branding photography? What makes it unique for you?

Gemma:  Okay. When I work with families, it’s a whole different scenario. Normally you’ve got young children, we might go to the beach or go for a walk, and it’s more about capturing the family, interacting with each other, and capturing the joy and the smiles and the informality and the relationships between them. So branding photography is completely different in the way that we’re trying to focus on the person’s business and their brand and their personality and how they’d like to come across. And normally not always, because I do work with small companies and multiple staff members, but normally it is just one person. So it’s just about trying to showcase their business and how they want to come across. So each case is just so individual and based on whatever they do for there. I work with people who make things and then people who provide services and products, and so it’s just trying to always really personalize the shoot for them and trying to make sure that we’re capturing everything that they need, whether it’s for social media or their websites or a profile picture. But I really like the unique case of each business so that you can try and work with that person just to bring out what they need. So every shoot is completely different, and we choose different locations and different props and different outfits and different scenarios. So it’s just really interesting and changing all the time.

Sam: Cool.

Marcus: That’s really interesting, isn’t it, Sam? Because we’ve had previous guests who have really talked about the importance of doing research and diving into finding out about businesses. Isn’t that right, Sam?

Sam: Lots of our guests who’ve used photographers have said, yeah, that what’s really important to them, is that the photographer’s kind of done their homework and knows their business, so is ready and knows what sort of photographs they’re going to need and is asking the right questions. Yeah, that’s come across really prominently. I was going to say, Gemma, what do you sort of say to clients? What questions are you asking them before the shoot?

Gemma: Well, I always have an initial call with them, obviously, just to find out more about their business and find out more about their personality. Some people are comfortable going out in public and having a shoot there. Some people not so much. And so we might hire a space. I like to see visually, see images that they like and look, research their industry, so I understand how people are portraying themselves. Some people come to me with ideas, but mostly they don’t. Mostly they come and they just want me to help them to bring something to life, but they’re not entirely sure what. So we share ideas on Pinterest and I’ll suggest different locations and I’ll show them examples of things that I’ve done in the past and we kind of build it together over a couple of weeks just to make sure that it’s everything they need from the shoot. So I am very much client led in terms of trying to make sure we get everything that they need .I think it’s different from, I don’t know, maybe 20years ago, people would just go in and have a head shot done and it was on a white background and that’s what you needed to just show your face. And I think branding photography has really evolved quite rapidly over the last few years in terms of people wanting to show themselves more personally and showing their personality and maybe working in the location that they work. Say, if I’m working with I’ve worked with a ceramics artist who we went to her workshop and a lady that makes her own bags and we were showing her with a sewing machine. I think it’s much better to personalize it in that way than to just have a generic white background. So I think the personalization of branding photography has really changed over the last few years and that’s what I enjoy. I’m not a massive fan of plain backgrounds.

Marcus: I love what you’re saying there, Joe. I really love that because it just echoes my thoughts. I really feel that obviously, as a branded photographer myself as well, I’m a bit biased, but I really feel that branded photography is possibly one of the most creative of the photography genres. And I love the idea about personalization that you mentioned because I feel it gives you so much opportunities to come up with your own ideas. It’s not like maybe, dare I say, a wedding where there’s a sort of format you follow, or the bride or groom may have the set ideas or the locations sorted out before you get there with branding, I think you have to just come up with the whole concept. Is that what you’re saying?

Gemma: Yes, absolutely. It is so personalized because my clients are from a wide range, changing, photograph lots of coaches, but then people who make their own products and then you’ve got people who are maybe financial services or You know, just from every aspect, whether they need one picture or whether they need six months worth of social media .So every single client is so different, and obviously individuals are so different, and some people are more comfortable in the camera and they come with lots of ideas and they want to feature certain things and they’ve got more creativity, but others, they need to be helped and led a bit. And I enjoy both. I enjoy helping people to come up with something that maybe they hadn’t thought of, but I also love bringing somebody’s ideas to life as well.

Sam: Cool. And then, interestingly, I think when we first met Gemma on social media, one of the things we were first talking about is you’ve been talking about using graphic design with the photographs. And I don’t know if this is you or the clients, but sort of taking that photograph beyond just being  pop it on social media and things on your website, but sort of incorporating that into sort of graphic design. Do you want to talk us a little bit more about that?

Gemma: Yeah, I think it’s probably LinkedIn. So I only started using LinkedIn maybe in the last couple of years or so. And obviously, as my client base builds up and I’m connected to those clients, I get to see it’s the same on Instagram and Facebook as well. I get to see how they’re using the images. And it’s just really interesting for me to see as I’m scrolling through. And I think, oh, there’s one of my images, there’s another one, there’s another one from clients. And it’s just interesting to see how different people use them. And I started to notice, as clients get more savvy with creating content, you can see, oh, well, that person’s used canva to maybe create slides that they’re going to use to encourage clients to sign 

up to whatever service they’re offering. And so then I started to do some research into how have my clients used their images? And there was such a massive range of ways that they’d use them and for different things, so for feedback and testimonials, or to show quotes or to advertise their services or their products. And that’s why I did the article, I think, that you saw, which just shows such a range of things that you can do. And so you’re not just, like you say, throwing an image  on and that’s it, you’re kind of using the images to elevate your brand and to advertise and market yourself.

Sam: It makes sense.

Marcus:  Yes. Gemma, I think that is the  real power of photography, isn’t it? In the way that it can be used on so many different platforms, one image can be used in so many different ways. That’s the power of photography, is it not?

Gemma: Yes, absolutely.  And also, I think, variety in images. So when I work with clients, I don’t take three or four images. I’ll probably take over 150 from each shoot. And I always encourage clients to get changed and use different scenarios, different locations, even if it’s on the same shoot that doesn’t look like it’s been on the same day. And so that they’ve just got a bank of images that then they can roll out and use and just have variety. So it’s not just the same thing all the time. And then, obviously, what you do with those images, it’s endless. creatively

Sam: Yes, If you’ve got a good bank of images and then you do different things, you got a lot of combinations, haven’t you? But I think people need those, like you said, those bank of images, not just two headshots, because you can’t use the same headshot in everything, because otherwise it’s going to get a bit boring. And I was wondering

Gemma: well, yeah, because you do see people doing that.

Sam: That’s it. And then I was wondering if this is something may be I don’t know if you’ve had thoughts on, this is something photographers could offer as an additional service. So not just, Here are your photos, but would you like me to do something with your photos? Almost set them up some stuff in canvas some little turn them into posts with quotes and that sort of thing. I don’t know both of you, what your thoughts are, if that could be almost like an upsell, as it were, as well as the photographs.

Gemma: Yeah. For me, I have, on occasion sort of offered to combine or to create a small graphic or whatever, but to be honest, most of my clients are pretty savvy with that. And because it’s something that they have to do regularly for their social media and they want consistency across the board in terms of how they design things, my clients tend to be happy to do it themselves. I did wonder whether it was worth offering. I can create kind of video slides haws. If someone asked me to do it, I would. But it’s not something that I’m advertising at the minute.

Marcus: It’s a great question. For my subscription clients I do I sort of offer myself as being their sort of creative department, and I’ll work with them on text, with images and cropping and so on and so forth, and maybe a bit of color correction that might suit where the photograph is being used.  And the reason I do that, Gemma, is because you know what? It just gives me a bit more control on how my photographs are used

Gemma:  mean. I do offer, you know, I do offer to crop it and to change the size of it. If you’ve got clients that really don’t know what they’re I will. I would do. And like I say, I would. If someone asked me to, I’d be more than happy to help them, but I just don’t know whether it’s worth a whole service or not.

Sam: Yeah, makes sense. I guess. A lot of clients are able to you right. In the sort of age of canva everybody can pop on that and make something look pretty good pretty fast. I guess for some people, it’s just time, isn’t it? Everybody is usually able to do most things. It’s how much time they’ve got. And I guess in some ways, as you develop a relationship with the client and they get busier in their business, which is what normally happens, it might be something that you need to bring in over time, as they kind of initially have got, as we all do when we start got lots of time and not so many clients. And then over time, you get busier and people have less time.

Gemma: Yeah, I think there was also some clients use social media managers who would probably take on that aspect as well. So I suppose it depends on an individual basis.

Marcus: Gemma, I have to ask you a question.  Maybe this is more in Sam’s territory, but if I may ask you a marketing question, obviously you’re working with families as well, so you’re doing B to C and you’re working on branding B to B. How do you separate the marketing in between those two type of businesses you’ve got?

Gemma: Well, obviously, I was initially a family photographer, so that was my focus in terms of search engine optimization for my website. So then I’ve got an Instagram account for my family work. But when I decided that I wanted to do branding a few years ago, I set up a separate Instagram account. I wasn’t sure I was torn between doing it, but then I just thought, actually, it’s a completely different thing and it’s a completely different audience. So I set up a separate Instagram for that. And then as time has gone by and the branding became bigger and bigger part of my business, I kind of changed up my website a bit so that instead of just being faced with family images, as soon as you went on. I’ve done a 50 50 split between them both, and I’ve done my search engine optimization to make sure that I can be found for branding and found for families and just tried to keep the website a split between the two. I didn’t really want to setup a separate website for it. I’m not sure whether that’s the right thing to do or not, but I find using LinkedIn and having a business photography Instagram and just keeping it on that side, and I tend to advertise family stuff on Facebook more, so I try and keep them as separate as I can. But also it is yeah, it’s difficult.

Sam: Yeah, it is. And that makes sense in terms of the social, isn’t it? In that those business people, LinkedIn is always the logical place to go, isn’t it? If you’re working B to B, but then for the families and stuff, Facebook, that makes total sense. And yes, should you have two websites or one is a constant debate. I have with a lot photographer. And yes, it is down to time, costs, effort, how much work you want. If you sort of had you and a few photographers and you did more and more work, two websites would be the way to go. But one person you limit on work, one can work really well if you say it’s got kind of the SEO for both. And it’s very clearly. And you did more and more work. Two websites would be the way to go. But one person you limit on work. One can work really well if you say it’s got kind of the SEO for both and it’s very clearly kind of lit out as soon as possible. You direct one people one way and one people the other way and it can work really well.

Gemma: Yeah, it’s pretty straightforward on a website. It just either says branding or family. So I guess when people land on the website, they’ll just choose the section that they want to go to and then within that section you’ve got the portfolio and you’ve got the pricing. So everything’s in there. So you don’t really need to look at the part that you’re not interested in.

Sam: And I get from Social, you can send them straight to the right part without them needing to make the choice, can’t you?

Gemma: Yeah. Particularly on Instagram, I’ve got a completely different following on my business one. I’m followed by businesses and I follow businesses and the family one. It’s just more about my family clients so they are completely different audiences. And I do try and post separate things so that I’m meeting the needs of both of those. And like I say, LinkedIn is just for the business stuff.

Marcus: That’s brilliant. That’s a really good way of separating it. Chamber just as we’re coming up to the close of the show, I can’t resist look, as I said at the beginning, we don’t have many photographers on the show and I can’t resist asking you, JAMA, to talk to me about the equipment that you use.

Gemma: I use two Sony bodies, so I’ve got Sonya use 35 mil and an 85 millimeter lenses. So I try and have wide angle for more contextual and maybe indoor shots. And then I use my 85 as a portrait lens and I find that that’s a really good combination to try and get a variety in terms of focal length. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else.

Marcus: I know it will make a lot of sense to our listeners. I noticed a lot those have become two really popular focal lengths, the 35 and the 85.

Gemma: Yeah, it’s a really good combination. I find it works really well for me because they are so different from each other and I use them in different circumstances. So I try and use both when I’m out on a shoot. So it’s not just always the same focal length that I’m using, so it just gives me more variety. How about you? What do you use?

Marcus: Oh my gosh. Okay. I use Nikon because I’m an old school photographer and I’m still a DSLR.I use an 850.I’ve got two of those. And lenses wise, I use prime lenses myself. I always have done. But I use a 2435-5085 and a 105. Yeah.

Gemma: Wow. Big variety.

Marcus: Well, yes, a big variety. I work with assistants, Gemma, so I can just shout out to them, oh, he passed me that. And they’ll respond hopefully with the right one, though. I’ll tell you what has happened, where they give me the wrong lens. I didn’t even notice, but whatever, that’s another story. What about editing, Gemma? What do you use for editing?

Gemma: So I use light room and photoshop. So I take everything into Light room first, have a play, and then take it into Photoshop just for additional sort of polishing. I know I can probably do a lot of the Photoshop work that I do in Lightroom, but I’m much more comfortable with Photoshop. I’m happy to do some work in there. Yeah, that’s my workflow.

Marcus: Totally. I mean, you can’t beat Photoshop. I still use a lot. I know it sucks a lot of time in, but it does things that you can’t do in other platforms. And I know Lightroom is now ubiquitous, isn’t it? I mean, I use Capture One, but I know the majority of photographers, 90% use Lightroom.

Sam: They do. And Marcus, I’m going to come in here, I think, before you two talk equipment for, oh, gosh. We do have a whole podcast on lenses, which is really interesting. So going back to what you’re talking about there, so that goes into much more detail. And maybe we should do one, Marcus, on a photo editing software as well. That’s maybe a one for future discussion. That could be really interesting. Gemma, it has been amazing having you with us. Thanks so much. There is so much there for our listeners. That’s brilliant.

Marcus:  Brilliant. Yeah.

Gemma: Absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Marcus: No problem at all, Gemma. Nice one.

Sam: Right, see you next week, Marcus. Bye bye.

Marcus:  Bye. Bye, Sam. See you next week.

Gemma:  Bye.