30 January 2013

Daily RAoK

Have decided today that I should not only try and upload an image per day onto Instagram so that I am always thinking about images, art, composition, photography, and the beauty that surrounds me - but also to try and complete one random act of kindness each day - a RAoK.
Not sure how I will log these but will keep notes and see if I think it is worth reporting back or whether this is something that has to be kept private!
Today I have found an old family photograph for my cousin. She has very few of her and her mum and dad from when they lived in UK so this will be a new image for her family photo album.
I also started a 'Smile Jar' this month - the idea being that each time something makes you smile you jot it down onto a piece of paper and keep that in a jar and then later in the year you can empty your jar and remember all the good things.

Smile Jar at the beginning of January
I think the Smile Jar may begin to fill quickly as I complete my RAoK each day.

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Days like this

Being ill through December really did not help this self-employed one-man-band. All my energies were focused on getting better and trying not to be sick rather than talking to my clients and organising work for January. As a result January has been quite quiet. This has given me the chance to resolve my backing-up issues and to clean the office. I've even found things I thought I had lost but during this time my camera has remained in its bag and the car parked on the drive.
However my hard work through early January, as I got better, has begun to bear fruit. A trip to my mentor last week to go through my ideas for the way forward for the business was very interesting and motivating and I now have a plan which is beginning to fall into place.
I am going to be rethinking my 60 second pitch that I give at network meetings and have been practising that on the cat over the last week. I now think I am ready to go and try it out on other people - which is good as next week I have three network meetings.
I have discovered a new way of networking called 'Netwalking' - fab way to network by going out for an hour and half walk and spending 5/10 mins with each person so you can talk about your business and see if there are ways you can find referrals or work collaboratively. If you want to find out if there is one near you have a look on Skylark Activities website for details. Yesterdays' netwalk was around Moira Furnace, Donisthorpe, Conkers using the Ashby Woulds Heritage Trail.
The snow had thawed, which meant a muddy walk,
but that did not dampen our enthusiasm
I really enjoyed it and made a very good contact. I am hooked so I am going to the Bradgate Park netwalk - my old stomping ground - that should be interesting, old memories will flood back.
Also during this quiet time I have been investigating social media and seeing how I currently make use of that. Not efficiently I know. I still need a little bit of training/practical help and that is in the diary for week after next.

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23 January 2013


I have been putting into place a plan I developed over Christmas and it is starting to bear fruit. Once I have things in writing and some work underway I will post more information. But this is exciting stuff and involves a whole bag full of photographic elements. 

Brrr its so cold - but this news is very warming.

Plans are being put into action
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22 January 2013

Client Images

My little package arrived today containing the new 250GB external hard drive. (Read my New Years Resolution post to see what I am talking about). This means I have been able to get all client images onto individual sticks/drives. These are now perfectly labelled and stored in a safe and secure box in the office. I can now rest easy. I have also backed-up the entire files/folder/system from the computer hard drive. I did this old school and next week will try out some software that means I will be doing incremental back-ups.

I have been told about SkyDrive for my day-to-day files/documents and I might investigate that too.

Think this story needs an image and as all I can see out of my window is snow I thought this would be appropriate.

It was a bitterly cold 5 mile walk to have a delicious Sunday roast

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17 January 2013

Pensions and stuff

What with the news about the changes to the retirement age, the changes to NI contributions, the equalising of policies whether you are a man or woman and the changes to all sorts of benefits - meant I thought I had better get my stuff checked out. 

Quick trip round to see my friendly local financial adviser and it seems:
  • I have 17 years in which to make up 5 years of NI contributions - that shouldn't be too difficult to do
  • I have the best pension schemes available already. They will just sit and rise with inflation until 2024 or 2027 depending on how successive governments change the rules
  • My pension can be left to someone if I require - so I need to start speaking to potential beneficiaries and see if they are interested - form an orderly queue people :-)

So I am sitting pretty with very little to worry about (at the moment). And relax.

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New Years Resolution

I never make resolutions - but this year I did. Simply because I must get on with it and do it. There should be no excuse. The only limit is my knowledge and understanding. So what am I talking about?


Yep backing-up all my business files/folders/images.

As you can imagine I am creating a vast amount of images and there is a lot of (electronic) paperwork to cover issues like quotes, invoices, work progress, account, correspondence, orders, emails etc. 

I have been speaking to various people who are very knowledgeable in this area and, to be frank, they did rather frighten me. I got a clear and concise impression of what could potentially go wrong. I appreciate this and this is why I am anxious to get something up and running. Even though I was scared there was the basis of an idea for a back-up strategy in there.

I have been looking at ways to do the back-ups so that they are incremental and not the whole lot being dumped onto an external hard drive each time. I know from experience that to back up all of it takes more than 2 hours. To be effective and efficient at backing up it cannot take 2 hours each time. So until I have worked out the easiest, simplest, (and possibly cheapest) way of doing that I need to do it the old fashioned way. 

I want to have client images stored on the computer, off the computer and off site. That way I have 2 other places where client images can be found if anything horrid happens to my desktop. On top of that I want to back-up all admin files/folders each week (or perhaps fortnight) and store that information off-site (probably at my mums). 

What I have realised this morning, as I continue dumping all my work onto an external hard drive Santa bought for me, is that I need more external hard drives to accomplish the goals above. I have been onto amazon and ordered more memory sticks and more external hard drives - I do enjoy shopping on behalf of my business. 

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Writing a Book

In the past I have written 'top tips' on photography on this blog and I use those as a basis for answering questions when I give 121 training. I was thinking, as I woke up this morning, that it might be a good idea to get all those top tips, thoughts, ideas and issues concerning photography all written down. If I make them all available in one place ie a book, then people who ask me photography related questions will have a resource to dip in to.

I will consider this over the next few weeks and put together an idea of how this can be achieved. I can see me making a book and needing the creative ideas from my brilliant Graphic Designer friend Redroo Creatives.  She is a whizz with typefaces and I can see that this book will be a typographical masterpiece.

One thing to consider is do I offer this as a gift when people have had training - or do I sell it at a 'covering my costs' level? All things to consider.

Will keep you informed of progress.

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More work

An interesting week - so far...

Visited old friends and former colleagues to see if there are ways of working together. As we both seem to be doing well in our chosen changes in career, since we last worked together, we thought there may well be ways of working together. I will be receiving a brief in the next few days for me to get my teeth into and so they can see how I respond to specifics. Also they were very interested in my 'Small World' work and can see a way of using it for one of their clients. So perhaps Small World will be getting more exposure soon.

Whilst I was parked up capturing images of the setting sun up at Hicks Lodge I received a phone call from a lady I had met at the Ashby Castle WI meeting a couple of weeks ago. She had taken the advice I had given her and found a way of finding and downloading an instruction manual for her camera and was calling to ask if I could give her some 121 training. "No problem", I said. When I have heard from her about suitable dates I will be popping round to see her and delivering some training. Cant wait.

Sunset over Ashby Woulds from Hicks Lodge 15-1-13

This has a Rothko feel to it - but as I am so inspired by his work then I cannot help but notice his influence in my work.

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Instagram - December

December was fun - leaves and pets and passion and weather. Decided that I didn't need to just capture one image per day - that I could go crazy and offer a selection. What you see here therefore is my favourite 30 images from December:

December - Leaves, Pets, Passion

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Instagram - November

An eventful and exciting month November was - what with a break in Amsterdam, the floods, pub crawls and fireworks. Such fun.

November - City Break and Whacky Weather

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11 January 2013

Ashby Castle WI

Back in November I was asked if I fancied giving a talk about photography to the newly formed Ashby Castle WI group in early January. I immediately said yes.
What fun.
I decided to talk about photo restorations, memory books, how I came to be a photographer and the sort of services I offer.

When I was informed I would have 45 minutes I was a little daunted to say the least. I am used to giving 10 minute presentations, but I thought 'well this'll be a good chance to go a little more in depth rather than just skimming across a subject'.

Over Christmas I was to be found with scissors, pritt stick and my trusty old laptop - so ancient it sounds like a bread maker (and isn't much smaller!) Within 3 days I had pulled together an interesting talk - it had something for everyone, including a little 28 second time-lapse movie.

I arrived an hour early for my talk, which I am so grateful for because the old bread maker would not work with the brand spanking new HD TV I was to be using to show presentation. A quick swapping of laptops and all was ready. Even though I had the start of a horrid cold and my voice was tremendously croaky I managed to talk my way through my 60 odd slides and open up the floor to an interesting debate about photography and photoshop.

I came away having made some sales of my greetings cards - the 'busy bee' image being the best seller - once again; sale of an A1 sized canvas and requests for 121 training. And who knows what other business might crop up from giving the talk.

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NLB Chair

I am proud to say that as from 4th January I am the Chair of my Friday morning network group.

I enjoy chairing meetings and it will also give me a chance to raise my profile a little. The main event taking place whilst I am Chair will be our attendance at the Love Business East Midlands event at Castle Donington race track on 14th February. NLB will be having a stand and representing the 20 quality businesses that form its membership.

I am going to offer an incentive to my fellow networkers in that the person bringing me the most 3rd party referral income from now to Easter will receive a gift as a thank you. Already have one member that is out in the front. Well done Sharon from Socius Ltd.
We have two new people wishing to become members which we will be considering next week. All good stuff.

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Navel gazing

Nothing to do with ships but a chance to think things through out loud.
I have been very remiss with my blogging since July - there are a couple of reasons for this - but a new year and a chance to think about what I want from my business have brought me back here.

Speaking to fellow creative business people it seems to me that blogging is still a worthwhile pass time. It is therapeutic for me and also it is a nice piece of publicity for my clients.

Here are my plans then to blog more frequently to talk about:
  • the work I am doing,
  • the work I would like to do,
  • exhibitions I visit,
  • exhibitions I exhibit at,
  • talks I give,
  • people I meet,
  • issues I have with my equipment (there's always something),
  • successes,
  • failures,
  • behind the scenes images,
  • personal projects,
  • quotes,
  • mucking about with Instagram
  • and a bit of fun.

I will not be getting all serious, I will not be getting all techie. Hopefully it will be like sitting down and having a chat with a friend.

I think I need to revisit the labels I put onto my blogs too as they do not seem appropriate now and it will be easy for you to flit around posts if they are grouped together in a more coherent way.

Right well let's get started.

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