The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

I need your assistance... Part 2

Given some of the responses to my last post (I need your assistance), I realise I left out a crucial part of the equation - one which goes to the very heart of where the last version of the website went wrong for me - the conflict of how to promote myself.

The reality is there are thousands of portrait photographers out there doing the standard stuff - family dressed smartly and smiling in front of a draped bedsheet or soft focus, staring into the middle distance. And in recent years there's been a big rise in the number of family  dressed casually and smiling but with no shoes on while rolling on a large white floor style of images.

Now while I can, and do, do variations of these kinds of photos for people who ask for them, it's not really how I want to promote myself.

That style of photography is where most of the competition lies. Of course that's where most of the conventional money is too, which is why there's such a fight for position.

But what I really enjoy doing is more edgy or creative photos - away from the mainstream.

What to do? More smiley, family type photos on the front page might bring me in more traditional business but, while it's fun to do sometimes and brings in a bit of extra cash, it's not really what I got into photography for. I like to confront, explore and create.

After a lot of ho-ing and humming and inner searching and long talks with Maggie, I decided I would go for promoting the less conventional; the more interesting and challenging stuff - the kind of photos that make people look twice. And if that loses me some business, then so be it if it helps bring in more thought-provoking work.

I'm afraid it's the philosopher in me - I can't let the world go by unquestioned.

So that's my aim with the revamp - clarifying the balance between building a reputation as a photographer you go to when you want something less mainstream, and not scaring too many potential customers away.

Does that make sense?

Do let me know your thoughts.


The Pollinatrix said...

Makes total sense to me to claim that niche for yourself.

Personally, I have rarely had portraits made because of that "standard stuff" of which you speak. However, reading your website made me WANT to get a portrait done by you. Like, really hunger for it.

Aoife.Troxel said...

I had a feeling that is what you wanted, and I think a lot of the comments I read on the previous post were spot on, that a few minor changes were all that was needed. Some people said they wanted happier, more traditional photos, but there are others who would go for something more unique, and there are definitely enough of those sort of people :)

Carole said...

Remain unique. The website is easy to navigate, clear, and an excellent demonstration of the kind of work you do.

If people take the time to look through your photos and want good pictures they will pick you over the average photographer because you are not cookie cutter.

litzi said...

Hi Kim,
Are you a glutton for punishment today? Beating yourself needlessly over the head with what if’s

Se2 said...

I am so glad that you decided upon the 'thought provoking theme'...
After reading comments on the previous articles, I was apprehensive about the merits my insight would carry in comparison to all the above more experienced readers( considering my age), but I am really glad that you are deciding to stick to your niche...

Cheers Kim...I really hope that with some small changes here and there, you do attract the needed customers..:)
My all good wishes..!

Lee Ann said...

I knew that there was something missing in your original post. Ha!

I like the fact that your portraits are different from the mainstream. I haven't gone to get ours professionally done in years because of the very fact you've mentioned. It's just too impersonal to me. And everyone is doing it.

Yours are more a reflection of the person him or her self -- a good thing.

It's hard to market yourself because of this main difference. I do like the updates and the website is easy to navigate.

I wish you all the success in the world!

Jasmine said...

I think the site looks really good. Just one suggestion. :)

On the pricing page (, you mention twice that you are open to other things beside the noted packages. May be redundant and I would try to only mention it once.

LegalMist said...

I think you've done a great job of staking out a niche in portrait photography.

My comment about adding "more" photos to the first page wasn't meant to imply they should be of a different type - just that it would be nice to have five or six more to scroll through before diving on into the rest of the site.

If I'm ever in Scotland again, I'll be looking for you to take my photo - and my kids' photos, too!

Kim Ayres said...

Pollinatrix - I've never been to New Mexico, so you need to get a few friends/ neighbours/ relatives to club together and fly me out to do some photoshoots :)

Aoife - I hope so :)

Carole - very strong, clear and decisive words - thank you for your confidence in me :)

Litzi - the beating myself needlessly over the head with what ifs was done before. The decision was made to follow the niche, but it's always a good idea to get other sets of eyes and opinions to look things over. And I'm glad I did - a few things have already been tweaked because of it :)

Se2 - your insights are jsut as valid as anyone else's. Each person brings their own unique perspective to the table, with their own culture, experiences and personality, regardless of age. When I ask for opinions I can then either accept them, or am forced to justify why I will stick with my own. Either way it is useful :)

Lee Ann - I've heard others say something similar about not getting portraits done because of the impersonal one-size-fits-all approach, which makes me feel there must be a market out there for people who want to explore something different. The question is how to reach them :)

Jasmine - good point, I've removed the 2nd one - thank you :)

LegalMist - whether you want your photo taken or not, it would still be great to meet up if you come to Scotland :)

The Pollinatrix said...

Yeah - some rich neighbors. :) But really, that's a smashing idea. We have lots of great landscape photographers here, but very few who do good portraits.

Pat said...

How would you feel about working with actors? That could be an interesting combination. They are used to regarding any project as a voyage of discovery and they are not ALL luvvies.
Aren't there lots of them in Edinburgh just now?
The idea may appall you.

hope said...

Okay, computer glitches took me until today, so I'll give you an answer for your last 2 posts in one. If that's okay.

What you're attempting to accomplish is EXACTLY what I honed in on when I visited your site. And this was the sentence which jumped out at me,"a photograph is a single instant in a continual movement through time."

That alone would make me "take a chance" on you. Because it's obvious that you're NOT one of those guys who makes everyone look like a deer in headlights staring at a lens with no soul. It would also remind me of who I was that day, not like an engraving of, "And that's how she looked for the rest of her life."

Your photos have life...FUN, VARIED life. Which would put me at ease that you weren't some stiffly formal guy who would grimace at my not so perfect face. You're on the right track. If I was closer, photo phobic me would sign up for a session.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you mean Kim. I go to your site and perhaps I'm a wee bit prejudiced but I just love it! It is so refreshing to me - who is partial to anti-perky myself.... that being said, I wouldn't say it was great if I thought it wasn't. Perhaps marketing could be had through ads on other photo sites? Don't know too much about it...

Vicky said...

Oh god I never meant for traditional pics to go on your websiste LOL. My parents still have those wonderful family portraits stacked away somewhere and they will never ever see the light of day again LOL

Keepin' afloat - barely said...

Makes complete sense. The thought-provoking edginess of your photos are what makes them stand out and unique. The standard "hip" trendy family photos of today are empty - void of all thought and feeling. Why bother?

litzi said...

Hi Kim,
Too many professional photographs one has taken of oneself (or the family grouping) look posed and stilted. Your pictures appear spontaneous and au naturel…refreshingly candid and different. If I was in the market to have a family portrait done (and your studio was in my vicinity), I’d opt for your services without any qualms.

Good luck with the dissing…

Alice said...

As a person who has one of those family pictures on the white back drop, I say, thank god!

My favorite picture is the one I had them take of my husband and I holding our (then 3) daughter upside down, because that's what she loved to do. She was laughing her butt off, but the chain photographer thought we were crazy.

Anez said...

Your Photographs have depth.. I was looking at some potrait photographs taken by some others and not many have that appeal that yours do.....your photos speak thats what good photographs do!
It would be a realy loss if you ever decide to give up your style of photography ....

A Daft Scots Lass said...

You need not explain your art, Kim. Its how you see the world and how you see people. Thats the beauty in it. The normal portraits are pretty boring - I adore your stuff.

Anonymous said...

After a whole summer in way-too-close quarters, I wish someone would capture the "family tearing one another's hair out" in my parents' house. LOL

Either way, one of my favorite photos of myself as a child has me and my best childhood friend pulling on opposite ends of a doll, while we cry crocodile tears (heads flung back for dramatic effect and everything). My dad managed to really 'capture' the moment. hehehe

I say thumbs up to carving your own path.

MikeP said...

Overall, the effect seems to be people looking directly at the photographer, close-cropped with minimal setting, yet the image tells a tale--so everything is purely successful as a reflection of your aesthetics. Would the queen call you up to do her portrait, I wonder, or is your niche too narrow and personal? Also, I wondered if you were putting us on with the "emergency photography" package.

Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

The website looks good to me, very clear and crisp and easy to read/navigate.

My only comment would be that the text on the front page gave me the impression that I (as the customer) would have to come up with the ideas for the photo shoot, and as someone with very little creativity or experience with photography that would make me a bit shy about approaching you. Based on reading your blog I have no doubt that if I came to you saying I need photos for X you would be able to come up with all sorts of interesting ideas about how to achieve that but I didn't get that sense from the text on the homepage. Maybe that was intentional as I see you work a lot with other artists who no doubt have much more imagination than I do.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

I want to help but I can't read right now as my eyes water after looking at the screen for 20 seconds.

Good luck mate!

Sarahlah said...

Makes absolute sense...go after what you believe is right. The term that comes to mind is artistic integrity.

Mimi and Tilly said...

It makes total sense to me. I believe there are many people in the world who will want what you create, Kim. (I think your portraits are strikingly beautiful) Thank you for your lovely comment on my anniversary blog post. It's been an amazing year, and I'm looking forward to learning more about myself over this next one. Em x

Anna van Schurman said...

On the galleries page, the facebook link, there's a typo "phtography".

Kim Ayres said...

Pollinatrix - well I'm always open to ideas - send me an email if you'd like to explore this one further :)

Pat - actors would be great fun. Unfortunately Edinburgh is 2½ hours drive each way. Besides, I've never met an actor with any money... :)

Hope - Thank you for your words of encouragement and support :)

Starrlife - marketing it is a separate strategy. First of all I have to make sure it's worth sending people to the website :)

Vicky - actually you can have some fun with "traditional" style photography. On a few occasions I've done Victorian style poses with serious faces, then put them in sepia and a feathered oval surround :)

Keepin' Afloat - my thoughts exactly :)

Litzi - part of the problem for most people going to a professional photographer is they have money invested so are terrified the images might not show them at their best, so rather than be relaxed they put on thier best "pose", which inevitably looks, well, posed.

Alice - I think a lot of portrait photographers are really product photographers - they see their job as trying to make the "product" look as good as they can and quite forget the human, emotional, real aspects to it

Anez - I don't plan on giving up any time soon - thank you for your kind words :)

Gillian - thank you :)

~:C:~ - I do have a photos somewhere of 3 of the kids with their hands all wrapped around each other's throats :)

Mike - the "emergency photography" is a real option. It's not been used much, but it has been used on occasion :)

Long Dark Hair - the idea was to leave it open. Some people have very clear ideas what they want - and you're right, many of the people I've photographer are "creatives" - mostly they tend to be more up for doing something less mainstream. But I don't expect everyone to know what they want, which is why I have that section of "Preparations" on the prices and options page

FLG - is that something to do with my website, do you have an eye infection at the moment, or have you just sat awkwardly on your family jewels?

Saralah - thank you :)

Emma - thank you for your kind words. And I read your post to my wife, and she's printed it off to show a couple of her friends she's out seeing tonight :)

Anna - thank you for spotting that :)

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