I saw an advert for a local photographer a few weeks ago on a Facebook, I checked out his Facebook page . I decided that I would be a little cheeky and contacted them asking if they had ever considered working with bloggers.
I started chatting with Liam via email, He had never worked with bloggers but was interested in hearing more about this blog and what would be involved with working together.
We arranged to attend the session on Saturday morning in the Gate centre in Huyton and we agreed that I would write this post in exchange for the photo-shoot and interviewing Liam about his work, as well as giving my opinion on the website.
I had already had a look at the Whitebox website, it is bright, colourful and attractive to look at, more importantly it is easy to navigate.
I selected Northwest and Liverpool then it comes up with a list of photoshoot types.
Liam mainly does 3 types of photoshoots:-
Free Newborn Baby Taster Photo-shoot– These are for babies up to 16 weeks and are actually free, you need a £10 deposit to book but you get the back on the day. The shoot lasts about 10 minutes and you will receive about 20 photographs of your baby.
- Children Only Photo-shoots – This is for up to 3 children under the age of 16, perfect for siblings. It costs £25 and lasts for approximately 10 minutes. You get a minimum of 25 photos to take away with you.
- Family Photo-shoots – These are for up to 5 people and cost £45 ( £15 deposit and £30 on the day) It lasts about 20 minutes and you get a minimum of 50 photos to take home.
If you are interests in getting photo’s done please take a look at Whitebox photography’s website an see when they will next be in your area.
Charlotte and I arrived at The GATE community centre in Huyton just before our appointment time of 11.40am, and went inside. We were greeted by Liam who was set up in a large room near the rear of the building, it was very well signposted from the entrance so easy to find.
He was very good with C, who was a little apprehensive at coming in, letting her come in at her own speed and left her to settle.
We went over to the large shoot area that was set up and noticed that Liam had loads of props to chose from, C chose quite a few during the shoot.
I took off both C’s shoes and my own, I wasn’t going to be a part of the shoot but Liam suggested I went in and interacted with C to make her more comfortable at the start.
Within minutes C was dancing, twirling and stomping around the white screen like she owned the place. Of course being a very nearly 2 year old she didn’t really stay still at all, I am amazed that Liam was able to get any pictures of her that weren’t just a blur, I know most of mine usually are.
He was great with her, talking to her and asking her to show him the ducks or flowers, getting pictures but moving at a pace that she was comfortable with.
He took photos for about 20 minutes using different props. I really wish that I had taken her baby ballet outfit with us as well but I’ll just have to book again for a few months time when he is back in the area and take those photos then.
Here are some of my favourite photos from the shoot.
After we had seen viewed our pictures, and Liam was transferring them to a CD for us to take away with us which included a letter stating that we have copyrights to the photos so we can have the lovely pictures printed and use them as we like.
Before we left I asked Liam about Whitebox and how he had come to work as a photographer.
How did you get started in photography?
“I started in photography when I was about 11, my mum introduced me to it. My mum had no training what so every, she just had an eye for it. she had a little box brownie that she used to line us kids up with and take some pictures. So I just got the bug, and became curious about it.
I had it as a passion and as a hobby for a long, long time, but its only since 2003 that I’ve been doing it professionally. Ill health took me out of the rat race and my wife encouraged me to take it up professionally as I had been talking about it for years. So I did. “
How long have you been a professional photographer?
“I have been a professional photographer now for about 10 years “
How did you start working for Whitebox Photography?
” I started Whitebox photography with an associate in Leeds about 3 years ago, and since then it has just developed. “
What caused Whitebox photography to come about?
” I was taking my role as a professional photographer and actually not enjoying what I was doing, it seemed to be becoming a dated approach by trying to people expensive photographs, when they can get them done online, or by editing pictures. I can turn a picture black and white in 0.3 of a second, but so can loads of other people now, they don’t need me or any professional photographer to do it for them now.
People are so self sufficient now with what they can do with photos or a digital image that if we can just provide the image without additional charges that they would enjoy that, and they do.
The trouble I have is convincing people that it is a genuine offer. “
How is Whitebox photography different?
” There are no hidden costs, no sale gimmicks. I am selling time not photographs, the photographs are just a digital by-product of the process.”
How do you get the pictures that you want?
” If you think back to my work with Charlotte then it wasn’t about the camera its about the interaction, if you can relate to people and children my approach is to be informal. Children play, its about encouraging them to be themselves and to relax. that’s when you get the best out of them.
You wont always get the formal designer picture, but that’s not what kids are like.
They are playing with the ducks and they are running around and the funny little looks here and there, and that’s their personality, that’s what you find parents want, they want their children’s personality coming through.
You will see a lot of photographers with massive sets and props, and it becomes about t he art of the photograph not the personality of the child.
We are trying to break that mould and get people to understand that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a nice picture on the wall.”
What’s your favourite type of shoot?
” I like people, I like people watching and I like relating to people, so my favourite type of photography always involves people, but I think children are so responsive and so reactive that it is the most satisfying particularly if you can put a smile on a parents face or make them laugh while they are looking at the pictures then you know that you have done a good job and that it very satisfying.”
How would you like to grow Whitebox photography in the future?
“I’d like to do more special needs children’s photo shoots, a number of parents have brought their children to me and are delighted by the time that I can spend with them.
You need to be able to give all children, especially special needs children, the space to relax and be themselves, and do what they are going to do, If that means that they are going to be jumping about and bouncing off the walls that’s what they do.
Or if a child is immobile you have to find a way to make them comfortable, the great thing I do is make dad into a prop, I’ll get him to sit on the floor and cover him with a quilt and hold the child. The child is then presented in a nice way, the white quilt disguises everything and mum gets the picture that she wants.”
What do you like most about your job?
“Making people happy, knowing that someone has gone away with a set of pictures that they are really pleased with.”
You have a mobile studio instead of a permanent space, how do people find it when the come and see you?
“Our set is completely mobile, its packs away so small and goes in the van outside, that van is like a tardis. It’s all designed to pack down small. Some people are surprised how sophisticated our set up is.
The results are no different, as you can see, compared to any other studio.”
How often do you do photoshoots?
“I work most weekends somewhere , here for example I am here every 3 months. I work all round the North West and North Wales, and each weekend I’m in a different location.
How do you spread the word about Whitebox, and how will you in future?
” I have various Facebook pages which I use to promote the business ( for different areas) but I will share a post and maybe only 30 or 40 people will see it, I have hundreds of followers but not everyone will see the post.
What I’m finding is that I’m putting the information up there and then getting messages asking me when I am in Chester or when I’m in Wrexham but I put the information up a few days before, people are just not seeing it.
Something that I will have to start doing although I don’t want to is promotional emails, I won’t do them often as I don’t like getting promotional emails myself but it’s just to let people know that I will be in the area.
That is one of the reasons that I was keen to meet you and investigate your blog, because Facebook is becoming less and less effective as a way to promote small businesses.
In this industry there are so people doing photography, many fully qualified trained professional photographers like us but there are also people at the other end of the spectrum who had bought a camera and gear off ebay, and said I’ll be a photographer. So without information and feedback from other customers it can be a bit of a lottery, especially a lottery of costs. It can be such a risk “
*Disclaimer – I received the photoshoot and pictures free of charge in exchange for this post, All opinions are my own unless quoted, The “quoted” portions were spoken by Liam from Whitebox photography”